Road construction delay not enough for protesters

The central government has backed down on a highway concession after protesters dominated the Juan Santamaría day festivities in Alajuela.

Casa Presidencial said late Friday that after a meeting with mayors of the affected cantons, the order to start construction would be delayed.

This is the San José-San Ramón highway where a 2,000 colons toll, about $4, has been predicted. The concession was won by a Brazilian firm, OAS. Those who would use the highway say that it is too much. The toll would be $8 for a trip from San Ramón to San José and return.

Opponents of the concession said over the weekend that they would continue their efforts to have the concession rescinded. They have been meeting to plan additional actions to bring their message to the government.

The central government issues concessions to private firms because it does not have the money for capital projects, despite heavy taxes on vehicle imports and on gasoline and diesel. In exchange for building the road, the contracting firm gets to collect a toll for a specific period of years.

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