The China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC), working on the expansion of the Ruta 32 (San Jose – Limon) on Saturday removed its heavy machinery and vehicles from the job and without authorization from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT).
The equipment was sent by sea to Jamaica, where the firm has another project in progress, confirmed the MOPT minister, Rodolfo Méndez Mata, who announced that he will seek the imposition of sanctions since he had previously prohibited the transfer.
“They were warned that they would not be able to remove the machinery without prior authorization, but they did later anyway. I personally warned them Wednesday that they couldn’t do it. We will see how we sanction in the most exemplary way possible,” said Méndez.
Among the machinery they took out of the country are bulldozers, concrete mixers, cranes, portable power plants, and tractors.
CHECH’s spokesperson for corporate affairs, Teresa Hu Hong and Huang Yan, logistics director, told the press that they are not authorized to refer on the matter at this time.
Legislator David Gourzong said Saturday afternoon that he did talk with Teresa Hu Hong about the removal of the equipment, she commenting that it was an error.
“According to Doña Teresa, CHEC allegedly made a late request of permission to remove the equipment because they have large operations in Jamaica and part of the equipment in Costa Rica came from there. According to her, now they are returning equipment because there is supposedly sufficient machinery in Costa Rica,” said the legislator.
“It was all a mistake and that they are going to try to fix it,” added the legislator, convinced he was able to reason with the representative and of the error.
Ruta 32 project behind schedule
CHEC was due to deliver the first 20 km of the Ruta 32 project in February this year, but did not comply.
The project received the start flag in November 2017 during the Luis Guillermo Solís administration with a completion date for October 2020.
The firm has asked for an extension that would have seen the completion of the project in March of this year,
However, weeks ago, CHEC announced new delays attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic that allegedly forced it to do without at least 180 workers.
In addition to expanding the road to four lanes, the project includes the construction of 36 new bridges and the reinforcement of existing ones, as well as the construction of 13 overpasses, 24 pedestrian bridges and five intersections at the interchanges at Río Frío, Guápiles, Siquirres, Moín and at the entrance to the new Moín Container Terminal (TCM).
The original investment is US$465 million, which rose to US$565 million due to the need for additional works.