QCOSTARICA – Luis Amador, the Minister of the Obras Públicas y Transporte (MOPT), continues insisting that he did not order the reopening of the Cambronero sector of the Ruta 1, the Interamericana Norte, on Saturday that resulted in tragedy claiming nine lived.
In a video released on social networks, Amador, affirms that “he does not know” why the Policia de Transito (Traffic Police) did not maintain the closure despite the weather conditions and the warnings given by the national weather service, the by Instituto Meteorológico Nacional (IMN), for the weekend.
That sector of the road had been closed by a landslide, at a different point, on Friday. The closure had been maintained until Saturday afternoon.
The Cambronero, a section of road that weaves through steep mountains, has a long history of landslides during the rainy season. The sector, as most of the Interamericana from San Jose to Puntarenas, lacks proper barriers and had been lacking road maintenance for the last couple of years.
The fatal accident occurred at around 4:30 pm, at the height of Cambronero in the Los Chorros sector, 10 kilometers from San Ramón, a landslide hitting the rear side of the bus headed for Guanacaste, pushing it off the road, down an embankment, resting some 75 meters below.
Hours after the fatal incident, videos that emerged on social networks, ie Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, among others, of drivers recording the road conditions of heavy rain and even small landslides already on the road.
“You have to ask the Transito why they didn’t do the closing, they are the ones that make the first arrival (visual) assessment and if they consider that there was a danger they have all the authorization to do the closing. I don’t know, I don’t know why they didn’t do that closure,” Amador said, insisting once again that he did not authorize the opening of the road.
What is the protocol?
The reopening of the Cambronero sector of the Ruta 1 conditions of climatic instability caused by the heavy rains that affected a large part of the country since Thursday last.
According to the MOPT minister, in cases like these, it is generally the Traffic Police that closes the road when a landslide occurs and communicates with the MOPT Public Works Division, which carries out the cleaning of the affected area. Then, Public Works makes a visual inspection of the road and if everything is a go, calls Conavi, advising of the results of the assessment and both entities instruct the Traffic Police to open the road.
Guess what? Bo the Public Works Division and the Conavi are under the responsibility of the Minister, in this case, Luis Amador, who took over the portfolio on May 8.
It can be argued that the Minister would not be directly involved in the process, however, the responsibility of any and all decisions lies with that office.
“In this case, I did not participate in the stages that have been mentioned,” Amador affirms.