With more than a decade under its belt to get this important road – the road to Monteverde – to one of the country’s more important tourist destination, the government of Carlos Alvarado hopes to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the halls of the Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOOPT – Ministry of Public Works and Transport – with a new builder, a new design and new model in road building that could be an example for future works.
The Monteverde road project began in 2007, when the then MOPT minister, Karla Gonzalez, promised to have the road done by 2009. Ten years later, the 17 kilometers between Guacimal and Santa Elena is a disaster. See photos here.
In the years following, there was nothing more than delays and failed contracts, the last being last year when in December the road construction came to a halt with the failure of the Grupo Orosi to deliver the finished road that had been scheduled for completion in September 2018.
On Wednesday, the government announced it would be putting out the tender by May, pinning its hopes on a new plan, which promises to turn it into a paradigm of building public works in the country.
Inspection by the neighbors, participation of the Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales (Lanamme) – National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models – in the creation of the cartel and changes in the maintenance process are part of the new model that will be applied, to a road that is used by some 200,000 tourists a year who visit the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and its rich flora and fauna.
The new contracting promises to be a model, since, among other aspects, it includes the active participation of the community and “shields” the work against failures in execution and quality of materials.
But, is it all a pipe dream?
According to the director of the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (Conavi) – National Roads Council – Mario Rodriguez, the company that wins the tender to complete the paving, must be responsible for the design, construction and also maintenance of the road. “Everything will be contemplated in the same cost,” says Rodriguez.
For the design and construction, the winner of the contract will have 18 months to complete the project. After that, it must ensure that the highway maintains optimum quality standards for the following 72 months (six years).
This last responsibility is at the discretion of residents and consulted businesses, as a guarantee, ensure that the company does not deliver bad work since they themselves must take care of repairs and maintenance, all within the same contract and original cost.
With this project, Conavi also intends to comply with an order from the Contraloría General de la República (CGR) – Comptroller General – that, in October of last year, issued a report in which, among other things, it criticized the road conservation model used by Conavi.
The CGR noted that the “unit price” model used by the entity does not provide incentives for contractors to be efficient when executing the works since it is paid for each activity that is executed and not for the final result.
For this reason, the Alvarado Administration decided to on the pilot plan in which the modality of service standards is used, in which the contractor is required to maintain the road, keep it within the parameters that they are established in the contract, during the duration of the agreement.
The current MOPT, Rodolfo Méndez Mata, who also held the portfolio in the Rodrigo Carazo Odio administration (1978-1982), accepted that this model, used in other countries, arrives in Costa Rica with a delay of more than two decades.
Residents and visitors to Monteverde can only keep their fingers crossed.