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China Expects A One-year Delay In Construction Of Road To Limon

The 345-meter-long bridge over the Reventazon River is one of eight that is in critical condition, according to a report by the National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models (Lanamme).

The Chinese company, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), in charge of the reconstruction of 107 kilometers of the Ruta 32 (San Jose – Limon) project will start construction work in the second half of 2018, and not in September of this year, as originally planned.

The company says the delay is due to the fact that the Costa Rican State has not yet completed all of the necessary procedures to begin the project, such as permits to cut down trees are not processed, there are no proposals to relocate public services such as water, electricity and Internet cabling. Also, there are up to 1,000 expropriations of pending land and an archaeological study to be done.

All this will delay, at least a year, the start of the project.

In an article on Nacion.com, Zhou Jingxiong, project manager for (CHEC), the Chinese state-owned construction company said, “… that these problems will prevent them from starting in September, as the contract says, and in the best of cases they could do so in the second half of 2018.”

Jingxiong added that, “… we will deliver the final designs of the new 107-kilometer route on August 15. However, the little amount of progress made by the State in the tasks that are pending will postpone the execution of the project. After the CHEC submits final plans to the National Road Council (Conavi), the administration will have 45 days to review and authorize them.”

Another problem is that there is still uncertainty as to how additional work will be financed, such as new overpasses and marginal roads that were not considered in the initial design. “… The Council is not clear where the money will come from to pay for these changes. Kenneth Solano, manager of Conavi’s executing unit, told Nacion.com that CHEC offered to lobby for an extension of the loan with Eximbank, but so far nothing has been made concrete.”

The project, “a megacarretera” will be financed a US$365 million dollar credit granted by the Asian bank Eximbank, and US$100 million dollars provided by the government of Costa Rica, which was approved by the Legislative Assembly in February of 2015. Nevertheless, the Conavi did not give the order to the Chinese until December 2016 because he did not have the environmental permits.

To get the project moving, the CHEC hired and paid for a private company to obtain environmental viability.

For Jingxiong, the Costa Rican government needs to simplify the procedures and that the institutions involved collaborate to streamline the road project.

However, the Conavi contends that CHEC should start in September despite the setbacks. The idea is that the Chinese can begin working on the 32 bridges, of the first stage of the project, because several of them do not require expropriation or relocation of services.

Despite presenting this scenario, Kenneth Solano, manager of the Conavi executing unit, did not guarantee that the work will begin in September.