Moín port project gets a green light from court

Rendering shows the project that is expected to reduce the unloading and loading time for container ships from as much as five days to a single day. Photo: APM Terminals rendering

Government officials are applauding the decision by a court not to delay the Caribbean container terminal project.

The decision came from the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo, which officials said gives a green light to the $1 billion project. The central government also ready has designated the Dutch firm APM Terminals, as the concession holder for the project. The firm will build a state-of-the-art terminal which will compete with the government- owned docks that are considered highly inefficient. Casa Presidencial has said the project would bring 2,000 jobs to the poverty-ridden Caribbean coast.

The project is considered the key development to bring progress to the province of Limón.

However, in Costa Rica there always is another t to be crossed or an i to be dotted, so projects frequently are delayed or halted by the tribunal. Its role is to make sure that the government has followed its own rules.

In this case, the port project at Moín was challenged by the Cámara Nacional de Bananeros, which sought to delay the project because of alleged lack of financial and technical studies.

Francisco Jiménez Reyes, who is president of the Consejo Nacional de Concesiones as well as minister of Obras Públicas y Trasnportes, said that the concession agreement has gone the correct route and has been approved by the Contraloría General de la República, the budget watchdog agency. He said the project would make Costa Rica more competitive. About 75 percent of the country’s exports go through the Caribbean port.

Allan Hidalgo said that the new dock would bring
benefits to the region. He is president of the Junta de Administración Portuaria y de Desarrollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica, which runs the current docks. He said that the money raised from the port project would be converted into schools. high schools, roads and cultural projects.

APM Terminals operates an integrated global network of ports, terminals and inland services. This network has 53 ports in 32 countries, 121 inland facilities in 48 countries, with a total of 22,000 employees in 62 countries, the company said when it received the concession March 1.

The terminal will undergo phased expansion in accordance with provisions of the concession agreement. Upon the completion of the final phase, the terminal will have an area of 80 hectares, with 1,500 meters of pier, five berths, a 2.2-kilometer (1.4-mile) breakwater and an access channel 18 meters (59 feet) deep.

The company added that the dredging will permit the entry of larger ships with greater container capacity, creating economies of scale and that construction of the breakwater will counteract weather conditions that prevent normal functioning at the port of Moín and enable the terminal to operate 365 days a year.

Casa Presidencial said that the waiting time for ships to be loaded or unloaded would be reduced from sometimes five days to a day. The government said that the premises envisioned by the company would be one and a half times the size of Parque La Sabana.

Despite the upbeat response from public officials, more litigation is likely, including some kind of action by the current dockworkers union, which opposes the concession because its leaders believe it will reduce or eliminate the public docks.

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