QCOSTARICA – The lag in infrastructure and the lack of financing for road maintenance has become a national crisis, according to various sectors.
And it is that the more time passes without investing a colon in the battered national roads, the more expensive the repair will be at the end of the day. It is estimated that for every dollar invested in risk reduction, up to US$7 can be saved, according to studies by the United Nations Office for Risk Reduction.
“Water is filtering and undermining the surface and the more time passes, the damage becomes greater and therefore, the State will have to invest more money to solve the problem, so it is urgent to do something now,” said Olman Vargas, civil engineer and spokesman for Costa Rica’s Cámara de Consultores en Ingeniería y Arquitectura (Chamber of Consultants in Engineering and Architecture).
The country is already completing its second rainy season without investing a colon in road maintenance.
The alleged corruption scandal known as “Cochinilla”, which came to a head in June 2021, with the detention of more than 30 people, including officials of the CONAVI (roads council), caused the previous administration to cancel all bidding processes, with the aim of making the use of public resources transparent, while the current administration has not yet taken action on the matter. affair.
At the same time, the country has been cutting investment in maintenance.
“Regarding the resources assigned to the Conavi, the budget has been reduced by 60% compared to what it had in 2018, in addition to the fact that part of the budget is destined to pay new construction debt (…) The accelerated deterioration that is currently being presented is not something that arises as a result of the lack of road maintenance over these two years, but is due to a special weakness in the management of road assets, as well as the low investment in maintenance that has been given to the road network, added to this is the decrease in Conavi’s budget,” said Carlos Trejos, president of the Costa Rican Chamber of Construction.
Ruta 32 that leads to Limón, the highway in Orosí de Paraíso, the road between La Suiza and Tres Equis in Turrialba, the General Cañas and the Bernardo Soto (Ruta 1), are some of the roads that are in greatest trouble, in addition to the sag at km 44 of the Ruta 27. The latter is managed under concession by the private company Globalvia.
The urgent need to invest in road maintenance was revealed in mid-September, after the fatal accident on the Cambronero sector of the Ruta 1, which caused the death of nine people, when a landslide – product of heavy rains – hit a bus and a motorcycle, sending down an embankment of some 75 meters.
The poor state of the roads generates a series of consequences in the economy. These are the most important:
- People’s lives are put in danger
- The mobility of people and merchandise is affected
- Tourism is affected
- Fuel costs and travel times are increased
- We must not lose sight of the fact that the competitiveness and productivity of an economy strongly depend on the quality of the country’s infrastructure.