In Costa Rica, the central government and its agencies often keep secret files and detials of contracts for public works. Although the practice has gone mostly unquestioned for decades, the Contraloría General (Comptroller’s Office), however, has decided to annul the contracts for two United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) road construction projects.

The expansion (the construction of the parallel bridge) over the Virilla river on the road to Limon suffers a setback.

The Contraloria said “keeping secret the files” by the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad (CONAVI) the reason for the annulments of the UNOPS projects, a decision that could cost the State dearly.

The Contraloria decision cancels the new bridge project over the Virilla river, near the Saprissa stadium, on the road to Limon. The US$22.3 million dollar project is to build a bridge parallel to the existing. The project was originally awared to the Consorcio Virilla 32.

The Contraloria said the UNOPS, in charge of administering the project, has refused to deliver a copy of the contract file to the Comptroller’s Office, since the document is considered “confidential”.

La Nacion explains that “… the UNOPS has not allowed the bidding companies to see the complete contract files. This is the second time that the Comptroller’s office has invalidated these awards.”

“… The Comptroller’s resolution responds to appeals by the companies FCC Construcción América S.A. and H. Solís S.A. In the case of the Saprissa bridge, the construction was granted to the consortium composed of the construction companies MECO and Puentes y Calzadas for $22.3 million. Meanwhile the Garantías Sociales viaduct was assigned to MECO for US$17 million.”

Now, the Conavi must decide, together with UNOPS, if it makes the documents public or if it goes back to the drawing board, so to speak, to start over the bid process for the works.

The Contraloria’s decision does not affect the UNOPS project underway on the construction of a parallel bridge over the Virilla river in Santa Ana and Radial de Lindora Road Expansion.