$300 million government city project is off to a shaky start

The proposed $300 million government city in the center of San José has gotten off to a shaky start.

Officials from the transport ministry were at the legislature Thursday to explain why the country’s budget and contract watchdog scuttled the first project, a new building for the ministry.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes announced the contract for the building and only allowed five days for bids to be presented. Specifications for the building called for prefabricated concrete, so only three firms that use this technique were able to bid.

Naturally other contractors screamed foul, and this week the  Contraloría General de la República rejected the contract the ministry had made with one of the construction firms.

Luis Gerardo González, who handled construction for the ministry had answers for every question lawmakers directed to him. He said the Contraloría initially said that a bid period of three days was sufficient, and the ministry allowed five days. He defended the prefabricated specification on the ground that the ministry is under a court order to leave its current location.

A 2012 Sala IV ruling said that the ministry had to leave the sprawling complex and return the land to the Liceo de Costa Rica by 2018.

González said building was cheaper than renting a new building.

The $11 million tower for the public works ministry is just the first step. The central government plans to accommodate 11 public agencies in the same high-traffic area of Plaza Víquez. The area would be called Ciudad Gobierno.

Carlos Segnini Villalobos, the minister, announced also Thursday that the agency would begin again the process for seeking construction contracts after studying the objections from the  Contraloría.ministrybuilding100215

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