Ruta 32 widening contract wins OK from budget watchdog

The Contraloría General de la República, the nation’s budget watchdog, said Tuesday that it had approved a contract between Costa Rica and Chinese companies for the widening and other work on Ruta 32 from Moín to Río Frio. This is a $465.6 million job.

The agreement is with China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd. and China Harbour Engineering Co. de Costa Rica, S.A. Chinese sourses will put up $395 million and Costa Rica will put up the rest and acquire right-of-way.

The central government said that the approval by the Contraloría  means that design work can begin.

This has been a controversial project in that the Chinese government wanted the ruling text of the contract to be in Chinese and any disputes be litigated under Chinese law. There also is the problem that the Chines firms estimated the cost even before design work was done.

The job involves widening the major highway to four lanes along with building bridges and overpasses. The job is supposed to take 42 months with design work taking eight of them.

Residents and those in business in the Limón area have pushed for the widening and some conducted demonstrations at the legislature seeking approval of the deal.

Plans call for a 26-kikometer bike path, 36 bridges, 13 overpasses, 23 pedestrian bridges and 176  bus turnouts. The highway gets 14,000 vehicles a day and it is the main route for exporters seeking to ship from the Limón ports.

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