Construction chamber expresses concern over road rebuilding

The Cámara Costarricense de la Construcción has pointed out an $88 million difference in estimates of how much it will cost to improve Ruta 32 from Río Frio to Limón.

The lower estimate, $377 million comes from experts by an international development bank. The higher figure, $465 million has been suggested for work that may be done by a Chinese firm.

In addition, the chamber said, the actual price still is open.

The Ministerio Obras Públicas y Transportes immediately responded with its own news release that it never established a price.

A vice minister, José Chacón Laurito, appeared before a legislative commission Wednesday to discuss the project.

Costa Rica is negotiating a deal whereby the Chinese government will pay for 85 percent of the cost of rebuilding and widening the key road. Costa Rica will pay 15 percent. Some 107 kilometers from Río Frio to Limón are involved.

The concept has run into trouble in the legislature with one lawmaker claiming that Costa Rica would give up its sovereignty for the deal.

Additionally, the lawmaker, Manrique Oviedo Guzmán, said that the firm China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd., the likely contractor, has been suspended by the World Bank after allegations of corruption in The Philippines.

The chamber also attacked the financing of the project, which would be in Chinese currency subject to changes on the international money market. The chamber also repeated the claim that the project would be governed by Chinese law.

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