(qCOSTARICA SPECIAL) – On Monday, August 3, the new bus terminal, “Terminal Central 7-10”, opens for business, bringing together under one roof six bus lines with regular daily service to the Pacific coast, Heredia and Nicaragua.
The new terminal, developed by Portafolio Inmobiliario, is located at the corner of Avenida 7 and Calle 10, diagonal to the old Libano cinema, on the north side of downtown San Jose.
For those who are not familiar with the area, it is known as the “Zona Roja” (Red Zone) where drug addicts, alcoholics, indigents, street prostitutes, petty criminals, among others, call home. Some have called the area home for more than 20 years.
The question is how safe is the new bus terminal?
The bus lines that will operating at the new terminal already operate in the areas, some only a few blocks away.
But for many, the change is like night and day.
Defending the insecurity perception is Hannia Cubillo, superintendent in charge of the Merced district delegation of the Fuerza Publica, who says “rather it is a perception due to the number of alcoholics, homeless, street prostitutes and bars.”
Despite it being labelled the Red Zone, Cubillo says the area does not have the highest incident of insecurity.
The police officials told the Diario Extra that the area with the bulk of the “incidents” is the market area known as the Coca Cola (official name “Mercado La Coca Cola”), where buses now leaving for Jaco and other areas, will now be calling the new terminal home. The Coca Cola is located on Avenida 1 and Calle 14, one block north of the hospital San Juan de Dios.
The police official added that there will be 168 officers covering the terminal that expects some 15,000 users daily, operating from 4:00am to 10:30pm.
One of the problems adding to the perception of insecurity is the large number of indigents. These people are here to stay and are not expected to move on just because of the new terminal
“These are people with a good heart who help them (the indigent) with food and blankets, exacerbating the problem, they won’t leave faced with the comfort given them,” said Cubillo.
According to the numbers, in the area coveraged by Cubillo’s delegation, daily on average 120 people are arrested for different reasons and some 400 crack rocks confiscated.
The police official says the problems are not due to lack of security by the police, but, to Municipal and Health officials, providing licenses and authorization for establishments that end up being prostitution dens, where also families and children live, and the PANI (child welfare agency) does nothing to intervene and shut them down. Same with the Ministry of Health, allowing unsuitable premises to operate, not cancelling their health permits
For users, the new terminal, despite the real or perceived insecurity, it will be a bid change. The terminal is now under cover of the elements (weather), restricted access and offers shops and restaurants while waiting for or getting off a bus.