Moín container terminal clears a constitutional hurdle

Opponents of the new $1 million container terminal proposed for Moín in the province of Limón have lost an effort to have the deal declared unconstitutional.

The Poder Judicial Thursday summarized a decision taken by the Sala IV constitutional court Wednesday that rejected an appeal filed by the secretary general of the public dock employees.

The appeal revolved around a section of the Costa Rica constitution that prohibits the transfer of rail lines, docks or airports from the ownership of the state.

The majority of the court magistrates decided that a concession does not represent a transfer because the state still has title.

APM Terminals, a Dutch firm, has the concession to build the container facility in stages. Eventually the state will regain complete control.

The Sindicato de Trabajadores de Junta de Administración Portuaria y. Desarrollo Económica de la Vertiente Atlántica strongly opposes the deal.

Two magistrates sided with the union and reasoned that the section of the Constitution, Article 121 (14) precludes any kind of transfer, even a concession.

Had their view prevailed, the concession granted for management of the nation’s airports also would have been in jeopardy, as would the concession covering the docks in Caldera on the Pacific.

There certainly will be other court cases  involving the project. Environmentalists oppose the dredging and the destruction of mangroves to build a road.

The central government sees the new terminal as a key element in the economic development of the Limón area.

About 80 percent of the nation’s imports and exports pass through the Moín docks where the public employees have staged strikes and slowdowns repeatedly. Some have been violent.

Also being challenged is a recent public hearing in Limón Centro about the terminal project. Union members got so rowdy that environmental officials closed the hearing early. Now the claim is  being made that the hearing was invalid.

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