Chinese firm agrees for a new deadline on Ruta 32 widening project

The China Harbour Engineering Co. has agreed to extend the deadline for Costa Rica’s approval of a bond deal until Sept. 15. This is the company that may be tapped to widen Ruta 32 from Limón to Río Frio,

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that a representative of the engineering company called with news of the extension June 20.

The controversial project has last been estimated at $465 million.

The Chinese have given several deadlines in the past in an effort to have the contracts approved by the legislature. The Partido Acción Ciudadana, which now has a strong bloc in the legislature and controls the presidency, has been lukewarm to the idea.

The principal criticism is that the contract is to be written in Chinese and that Chinese law will prevail. Some have raised questions about the price, too.

The project has not been engineered, so an accurate estimate is not possible. In addition to making the key highway four lanes, the project includes overpasses and expropriation of land. Costa Rica would put up more than $90 million, but some wonder if that is enough.

When the public works minster, Carlos Segnini, appeared before a legislative committee June 12, lawmakers said that the contracts would not reach the floor until October.  The project would be financed by loans from China, too.

China Harbour Engineering Co. and its subsidiary,  China Communications Construccion Co., has been blacklisted by the World Bank due to corruption allegations in The Phillipines, lawmakers noted earlier in the year.

There is strong support in the Limón area for the project.

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