Brazilian firm gets $28.4 million to go away

The central government has paid off the Brazilian construction firm OAS with some $28.4 million.

This is the amount that was reached in conciliation after President Laura Chinchilla canceled the firm’s concession for the San José-San Ramón highway.

Transport officials expressed pleasure Thursday because the nation was able to pay $12 million less than the firm originally requested.

The company had a concession to build the highway and then collect tolls to make a profit. However, those who were the potential users of the highway objected and said that the tolls might be as high as $4 a trip.

They engineered protests and embarrassed President Chinchilla at one public event in Alajuela.

Costa Rica ends up with all the plans and technical studies relating to the highway. The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said that the Ministerio de Hacienda will submit a special budget request to the Asamblea Legislativa to obtain the money to compensate it for the $28.4 million it  paid to the construction firm.

The government used a concession to build the road in the first place because it did not have the money.

The termination of the contract leaves the road project up in the air, even though government officials say they are working with the residents of the area to finance a new project.

Government officials were worried that if they did not settle with the Brazilian firm, the company would bring a much larger claim against it in an international arbitration venue.

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