Government agrees to $35 million San Ramón buyout

The central government has agreed to a payoff of about $35 million to a Brazilian firm that had a concession to build a highway from San José to San Ramón.

President Laura Chinchilla pulled the plug on the project last April, and the firm that had held the concession since 2004, OAS, was seeking $46 million in indemnification.

Roberto Gallardo, minister of Planificación, announced the accord Monday afternoon. The company had agreed to settle for the lesser amount.

Gallardo pointed out in a statement on the Casa Presidencial Web site that OAS had assumed cost of a previous contractor. He also said that the government has until mid-March to come up with
the money. If there is no payment, the agreement is off, and OAS probably will seek international arbitration or another agreement with whichever president wins the February elections.

Gallardo noted that OAS had a valid concession that had been approved by the Contraloría General de la República. The government will end up having plans for the new road and also expropriated property and various technical studies that will be needed to build the road in the future.  There are various proposals in the legislature to find the financing for the job.

The residents of the area objected to the proposed road tolls that the company would charge once the job was finished. The situation generated protests including some at a speech given by the president.

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