Presidential candidate asks for high-level roadway study

Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera has entered the discussion about the proposal to allow a Chinese firm to build part of Ruta 32. The job is from Río Frio to Limón

Solís said Monday that he has sent a letter to President Laura Chinchilla asking her to appoint a high-level committee to study and field questions on the project.

He is the presidential candidate of the Partido Acción Ciudadana.

“For PAC,” he said,”a public works so important to the development of the country requires a full guarantee of transparency. Limón deserves a highway that complies with the highest technical and operational standards.”

The proposal would staff the high-level committee with technicians rather than politicians. Suggested are representatives from the Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales of the Universidad de Costa Rica, the Colegio de Ingenieros y Arquitectos, the Cámara Costarricense de la Construcción, the Contraloría General de la República, the Procuraduría General de la República and the Defensoría de los Habitantes, among others.

The issue became a political one last week when Manrique Oviedo Guzmán, also a member of Partido Acción Ciudadana, questioned the project in a legislative hearing where he is a committee member.

He questioned the involvement of the Chinese firm Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd. and said the firm had been disqualified in the Philippines by the World Bank because of corruption.

The project is a big one. In addition to widening the highway to four lanes, there are bridges and ramps needed.

The People’s Republic of China has said it will provide 85 percent of the funds if a Chinese firm is hired. The deal also seems to be that the contract would be handled under Chinese law even though the job is in Costa Rica.  Oviedo also objected to that.

There also seems to be an $88 million difference between what the Chinese firm wants and what an estimate has been. The Chinese firm is higher.

The record of the Laura Chinchilla administration has not been a good one where roads are concerned. The biggest problem is the construction of a roadway along the Río San Juan in northern Costa Rica to provide transportation that is not dependent on the river, which belongs to Nicaragua. That project was mired in corruption, bad design and shoddy work.

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