Negotiations expected for Ruta 32 job

The public works minister has reported that the Chinese are open to negotiations involving a proposed deal to widen some 100 kilometers of Ruta 31 from Limón to Río Frio.

That caused some in the legislature to hope that the deal could be put to a final vote as early as February.

Carlos Segnini Villalobos, the minister of Obras Públicas y Transportes, traveled to China with a vice minister to reopen negotiations that had been stalled as the Costa Rican government changed hands.

The ministry reported that one goal of the trip was to insure that Costa Rica retains sovereignty. The original proposal was to have the contract litigated, if necessary, under Chinese law. The ruling contract also was supposed to be written in Chinese.

Costa Rica also urged the use of some of the Chinese loan, which has been put at $435 million, for expropriation of rights-of-way. Originally Costa Rica was supposed to pay this.

The government also would like the bulk of the jobs to go to Costa Ricans, too.

The job would be done by the China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd. with money coming from a Chinese state-run bank.

The project raised suspicions when it was advanced by the Laura Chinchilla administration because no site work has been done. Usually design is done first so that a bid can be made based on work that needs to be done. In addition to widening the highway, which is key for imports and exports, the job also involves a number of overpasses and intersections.

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