Tuesday 6 December 2022

Editorial: A national joke

AyA's apparent mania for digging a ditch as soon as the repair of a highway is finished is a recurring motif of national humor.

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QCOSTARICA – Following is a translation of the editorial in La Nacion Friday following the report that the last 3 kilometers of the expansion of the Ruta 32 from Rio Frio to Limon, to reach the port city,  will remain unfinished.

As the La Nacion states, it makes no sense to build – in this case, re-build – a 104 kilometers of road and leave the remaining three unfinished because the water and sewer utility, the AyA, the same state agency that overbilled (and continues to overbill) thousands of customers, can’t get their act together.

From La Nacion

From La Nacion, April 16, 2021:

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The expansion of the 107 kilometers from the Río Frío crossing to Limón will remain unfinished. There is no date to build the last 3,000 meters to reach the center of the port city. The drawback, we hope, will be overcome. It makes no sense to develop 104 kilometers of road and leave another three for the calends (time that is not yet to come) but the reasons for the setback are worthy of reflection.

The apparent mania of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados (AyA) to open a ditch as soon as the repair of a highway is finished is a recurring reason for national humor. With or without justice, it is practically incorporated into folklore.

It can be, in many cases, a mere prejudice awaiting confirmation after each annoyance caused by the indispensable AyA work, but what happened in the last section of Route 32 proves the good foundation of the jokes.

AyA’s apparent mania for digging a ditch as soon as the repair of a highway is finished is a recurring motif of national humor

Last year AyA warned the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (Conavi) -National Highway Council – about the execution of sewerage works and an aqueduct. If the new road was ready before these underground repairs, it (the road)would be destroyed. So far, the announcement seems like a coordinating act to prevent loss and waste, as well as community frustration.

However, the reality is exactly the opposite.

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Conavi informed AyA of the expansion of Route 32 in 2016.

In 2017, it delivered the design of the expansion and asked if there were any aqueduct or sewerage projects in the area. The negative response allowed the construction of the road to continue without concerns.

After three years, the AyA considered necessary a new aqueduct for Búfalo and improvements in the sanitary sewer system in the center of Limón. They are not minor works or of little impact. Its absence in the AyA projections is incomprehensible, especially in relation to the port’s sewage system.

The expansion to four lanes of the section from Santa Rosa to the center will have to wait for the completion of the AyA works when the two projects had to be integrated into one. Kenneth Solano, from the Route 32 Execution Unit, claims to have exhausted all administrative and legal possibilities to achieve this, but it was not possible.

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The lack of planning reproached by the jokes and sarcasm on this occasion is manifested very clearly. The AyA could not ignore, until last year, the need to improve the Limon sewerage. The deficiencies have been identified for years and projects such as Limón Ciudad Puerto, sadly failed, contemplated improvements in that infrastructure.

They were different plans, with much more ambitious goals; However, this circumstance rather proves the magnitude of the needs and the implausibility of a more modest arrangement not being incorporated into the inventory of plans or the AyA works schedule. In sum, it is difficult to believe that the institution did not imagine in 2017 the works decided in 2020, mainly, when it was specifically asked about them.

The lack of coordination between institutions is a constant not only on Route 32, but also in many other infrastructure constructions.

The case of the unfinished highway illustrates the flaw dramatically.

If only, it was the definitive lesson, at least in the case of AyA.

Click here to read the original opinion piece (in Spanish).

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