APM Terminals gets more time to obtain permits for Moín project

Plans to begin construction of a new container terminal in Limón are on hold for three months more due to legal reasons. The Caribbean economic development agency agreed to extend the start date for the work that was slated to begin Thursday. A request to do so came from the Consejo Nacional de Concesiones.

This is the nearly $1 billion modern container facility that is highly controversial.

Construction is now set for Oct. 24, according to the written agreement. The business APM Terminals is contracted to build the structure in Moín. However officials say that there are more permits and background requests that need to be checked before the company can break ground.

“Legal certainty must be guaranteed so to allow the state and Costa Ricans to continue attracting investments, generating employment, and maintaining the export interests of a stable economy,” said Ann McKinley Meza, the president of the development agency, the Junta de Administración Portuaria y Desarrollo Económica de la Vertiente Atlántica.

According to a clause in the contract, the company’s work will be postponed until it presents all necessary permits, approvals, and licenses required by Costa Rica. A current problem is the environmental impact statement that has been ruled deficient.

“In this case the administrator will postpone the order’s commencement until it’s been verified that the contracted party has complied with all the stated conditions that are pending approval,” the contract reads.

The government is not financially liable to APM Terminals for the suspension, according to the suspension agreement.

APM Terminals has been dogged by legal appeals and complaints from unhappy employees of the government docks in Moín. A recent problem was an access road that passed over mangroves.

APM Terminals will build an artificial island and do major dredging, so the environmental impact is substantial.

Some shippers also oppose the new facility because their costs will be greater.

The political implications of the terminal facility are complex. Some business leaders expect President Luis Guillermo Solís to try to find a way to dump the project to appease allies who do not favor concessions of public facilities.  Lawmakers from leftist Frente Amplio already have called for the contract to be trashed.

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