Q COSTA RICA – Authorities of the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT) – Ministry of Public Works and Transportation – are convinced that throwing another US$100 million dollars at the project will solve all the problems in the areas most affected during the rains on Route 32, the highway to Limón.
Where would the money come from? An option to get financial backing is to approach the Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica (BCIE) – Central American Bank for Economic Integration – after studying Conavi’s borrowing capacity, according to the MOPT Minister, Luis Amador.
Another possibility would be to appeal to the figure of Public-Private Associations to have the resources, an option that is seen as “not very viable” due to the lack of certainty of the return on investment.
The MOPT is monitoring the road closely, as it has had to be closed multiple times so far during this rainy season due to falling debris at different points along the way.
At the moment, the transit and engineering authorities of the MOPT maintain constant monitoring of this road, which has had to be closed on several occasions during this rainy season due to falling material, in particular on the section of the Ruta 32 between San Jose and Guapiles.
Mauricio Batalla, executive director of the Conavi, declared in April that “intervening” the Zurquí slope within the Braulio Carrillo National Park is necessary to prevent the frequent landslides on the road that are having negative impacts on commerce, tourism, and the public.
Batalla added that it is necessary to propose “a serious approach” to stabilize the slope once and for all.
The potential of landslides and obstructive materials on the road that makes traffic impossible. The MOPT, on those occasions, has resorted to closing the road to prevent tragedies, regardless of the fact that drivers have to travel to Turrialba and pass through the Alto del Guayacán, to connect with the community of Siquirres and thus continue on their way to the Caribbean, causing a considerable economic and time loss.
The other route is through Varablanca and reconnecting with the Ruta 32 at Guapiles, but also comes at an economic cost and travel time.
The 25-kilometer stretch from the Zurquí Tunnel to Río Sucio has been identified as the most vulnerable to landslides or mudslides, according to an assessment conducted by the Asociación Costarricense de Geotecnia (ACG) – Costa Rican Geotechnical Association.
Adrián Fernández, president of the ACG, noted that as a country, the necessary resources and technology are available to construct safer roads, while also saving resources in the long run by preventing disasters. He emphasized the need to embrace a culture of proactive prevention.