“The magnitude of the damage caused by Tropical Storm Nate in the entire road infrastructure of the country is of titanic proportions,” were the words of the Minister of Public Works and Transport (Ministro de Obras Publicas y Transportes – MOPT) German Valverde, to describe the condition of the national road network.
Tropical Storm Nate unleashed continuous downpours for more than 12 hours on Wednesday in most of the country, except for Limon.
All that water damaged sections of roads, caused landslides, undermined and ripped apart bridges, collapsed sewers and wreaked havoc in six of the seven provinces.
The MOPT has identified 215 points of damage.
How much will the repairs cost? They are so high that the MOPT does not yet have a full assessment of the number of roads and bridges damaged, fully or partially closed. As of Friday afternoon, there were 16 national roads with total or partial blocks, nine of which are a priority to repair.
According to Valverde, the priority is to remove the debris obstacles and reopen the roads.
In addition to the destruction of the road infrastructure, ten people lost their lives and as of Friday four more missing. Meanwhile, 11,300 people had to leave their homes and move to the 170 shelters.
The minister said that “it will take a long time for the country to recover and rebuilt the road infrastructure in good condition”.
Valverde was realistic given the country’s financial situation, explaining that, “with the resources of the current government, the MOPT will only be able to reconnect communities and respond to emergencies, but, the investment to rebuild is of a very important magnitude and it will be a challenge for the next government”. Costa Ricans head to the polls next February to elect a new government that will assume power on May 1, 2018.
Luis Guillermo Loría, the coordinator of the Transportation Infrastructure Program of the National Materials and Structural Models Laboratory (Lanamme), estimated that rebuilding that road could take up to a year working full time.
Public Bus Service
At least 20 bus companies have suspended service due to the roads situation.
Tracopa, Transportes Quepos Puntarenas, Reyna del Campo, Autobuses de Tilarán, Empresarios Unidos de Puntarenas, Trans Begy, Transportes Deldu, Pulmitan de Liberia S. A., Transnorte de Upala, Autotransportes Chavarría Meza, Corporación Cetosa, Autotransportes Blanco Lobo, Autotransportes Osa Península OMB, Servicentro Térraba, Autotransportes Mopvalhe, Autotransportes A.F. Menara, Transportes Monteverde Hermanos Soto, Transportes Blanco and Compañía Transportista del Suroeste are among the bus companies that have their buses idle or reduce service because the roads to the communities they serve are affected by landslides and/or flooding.
According to the CTP, the government concessions authority, there is no date for the resumption of services.
Some routes are expected to resume this week, as the MOPT clear and/or repairs damaged roads, others may be for some time before the buses start rolling again.
All are consequences of the indirect effects of Tropical Storm Nate that also affected telecommunications, electrical services, and water supply in many communities.