Despite recent road-repair promises over the past several months by President Abel Pacheco and Public Works and Transport Minister Randall Quirós, roads in the northwest province of Guanacaste remain in shambles, the Guanacaste Chamber of Tourism (CATURGUA) has charged.
In full-page ads published in various daily newspapers Sunday, CATURGUA claims the province’s beaches of Tamarindo, Playa Grande, Conchal, Potrero and Flamingo are “practically isolated because of the deplorable state of national roads that lead to them.”
According to the ad campaign, the poor roads have led to decreases in hotel occupancy, rental car demand and purchase of tours; and increases in accidents, costs for area businesses and time commuting for residents who live in inland communities but work in the service sector along the coast.
In particular, CATURGUA points to lack of repairs in the routes Belén-Huacas-Villareal, Huacas-Matapalo, Huacas-Flamingo and Santa Cruz-27 de Abril. Since December, authorities have promised repairs to these roads, but they have yet to begin.
CATURGUA worries the roads will not be repaired before tourists and Costa Ricans attempt to flock to the beach for Easter Week in April.
In 2004, businesses from Flamingo and Tamarindo beaches donated funds to repair pothole-filled area roads, with little government support (TT, Dec. 24, 2004).
CATURGUA points its finger at Pacheco, reminding the President of how he boasted last week of the benefits Guanacaste has seen during his administration because of increased tourism. In addition, Pacheco announced in January national roads would be improved before the end of his administration in May (TT, Jan. 27).
“The growth indicators that the President speaks of have been seriously compromised by the road infrastructure problem in the province. The pothole topic has become known internationally… many tourists have left with a very bad impression, and worse, have shared this bad experience with others…
The damage done to our country is incalculable,” the ad campaign reads. Giancarlo Pucci, executive director of CATURGUA, said they hope to see an immediate reaction from the government. “If not, other measures will be taken.
The people in the area are tired of this, and it’s impossible to contain their frustration. I don’t want to say what will happen,” he told The Tico Times.
Quirós responded to the ad campaign Tuesday at the press conference following President Abel Pacheco’s weekly Cabinet meeting, armed with data regarding government spending on Guanacaste’s roads. He said much of the construction in question began Tuesday, and criticized the daily La República for describing the government’s work plans as “chaotic.”
“No, sir,” he said, holding a copy of the newspaper. “We are conducting an organized transition… so the new administration can lift the wings of development.”
He added that unrealistic expectations, combined with laws that tie the government’s hands, are to blame for the criticism of the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT).
“Many times, you people want answers in 24 hours; that’s not the reality of public administration,” Quirós said, adding that bills to bring greater efficiency to the government are being considered in the Legislative Assembly.
Tico Times reporter Katherine Stanley contributed to this report.