The China Harbor Engineering Company, CHEC, raised with the Ministry of Transportation the possibility of early closure of the project valued
at more than $540 million for the construction of the expansion of Route No.32 - Chec photo-
Published Wednesday, June 2, 2021
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The China Harbor Engineering Company, CHEC, raised with the Ministry of Transportation the possibility of early closure of the project valued at more than $540 million for the construction of the expansion of Route No.32, between the provinces of San José and Limón.
In the original project, the construction of a highway of more than 66 miles (approximately 107 kilometers) was budgeted at $465 million. Of these $396 million are financed by a loan with the Eximbank of China, the rest was paid by the Government of Costa Rica.
However, an extra budget of $78 million had to be included by the government to cover additional costs such as public service facilities (electricity wires and public water pipe lines) the payment of property expropriation, among others. For a total estimated cost of more than $540 million.
According to the Chinese company, in a statement sent to the ministry, the contract for the current project agreement could be closed and after that, the governments of Costa Rica and China may negotiate a new deal and a new loan to cover the cost of the work.
In response to the request of the Chinese company, Minister Rodolfo Méndez-Mata stressed that the agreement between Costa Rica and CHEC must be achieved and that no early closure of the project will be negotiated. "The current agreement must be fulfilled and we will demand it," Méndez sternly said.
This proposal by the Chinese company "does not benefit the public interest at all, so the execution of the agreement must continue with the legally corresponding modifications until the work is satisfactorily achieved," Méndez said.
In September 2020, Zhou Jingxiong, manager of CHEC, recognized delays in the expansion and improvement works of Route No. 32, while he was facing a hearing before the deputies of the Special Infrastructure Commission of Congress.
According to Jingxiong, the delays are due to expropriation processes of properties that are still located along Route 32. Resulting in a domino effect of slowing down the much-awaited repairs from the progress of construction to the hiring of workers who do not live in the province of Limón and purchasing materials in the sale of inputs such as stone and sand.
Those specific materials can not easily be bought, since the only company that supplies them in the Limón area does not have an operating permit.
The route construction was scheduled to have been finished in October 2020, but following a request made by the Chinese company, the new date was rescheduled to March 2021. After extending the date of completion once again, the president of the company announced that it is estimated that the works may be completed by the end of this year.
Did the disagreement between the Chinese company and the Costa Rican authorities create a conflict between the two countries? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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