Chinese experts are taking a look at nation’s infrastructure

Some 20 Chinese experts are in Costa Rica exploring the possibility of donating money to improve the nation’s infrastructure.

Among the experts are representatives of the Chinese Development Bank. The group has eyes for the ports, the railroad and highways.

The public works minister, Francisco Jiménez, said the purpose of the visit is to evaluate the feasibility of some of the projects that would be financed by the development bank.

Among the possible projects are the ports at Moín and Limón, the nation’s rail system, Ruta 34 from Río Frio to Limón, the Interamericana Norte from San José to Puntarenas and the Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes has been challenged by some of these areas. For example, although a national rail network from coast to coast would be a boon for the economy, the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles is still struggling to extend passenger service in the Central Valley. There is an existing rail service mainly for agricultural products on the Caribbean coast, and the Central Valley rail lines extend to Puerto Caldera on the Pacific coast. However, the missing link would require significant investment to restore.
The Chinese, of course, are anxious to have transportation between the Atlantic and Pacific. Chinese officials have been in talks with the government of Colombia to build a 136-mile alternative to the existing but expensive Panamá Canal.

Jiménez said the Chinese are prepared to finance projects at a very favorable rate. However, the country would prefer donations.

Meanwhile, a Costa Rican group called Consenso para el Rescate de la Red Vial Nacional is urging the central government to improve the nation’s road network.

The group proposes planning in the short, medium and long term.

The group said that by June 30 the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, the road agency, had expended just 20 percent of its budget. Those expenditures were mainly for debt service, contractors’ claims and administrative costs, but not investments, said the group.

The group said that the problem is not technical but management. The Consenso is mainly composed of persons and firms in the construction business.

The Chinese, of course, built the new national stadium in Sabana Oeste, but the country’s government did so with Chinese labor.

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