Lawmakers give first approval to controversial Ruta 32 widening loan

Lawmakers passed on first reading Monday a bill that allows the government to accept a $395 million loan from the Republic of China. The loan is designed to finance reconstruction from two to four lanes some 107 kilometers of Ruta 32 from Limón to Río Frio.

There were 45 votes in favor and six against. One of those opposed to the plan was Ottón Solís of the Partido Acción Ciudadana.

Organizations and agencies outside the legislature have expressed concern about the loan because there still is no plan. In addition, the government will have to expropriate more right-of-way. A Chinese company, China Harbour Engineering Co., will be contracted to do the job without competitive bidding.

Lawmakers are expected to give final approval Wednesday. President Luis Guillermo Solís favors the plan.

The loan from the Import-Export Bank of China is for 20 lhighwaybackers022415years. The highway widening had strong support among truckers and Limón residents. Many showed up Monday to show support and to celebrate when the bill received approval.

The highway job is a key element in improving the nation’s transportation infrastructure. It will link the Limón and Moín docks with the center of the country with access to Nicaragua.

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