Costa Rica’s Casa Presidencial announced Tuesday plans to build new state-of-the-art facilities along the country’s northern border with Nicaragua. Foreign Trade (COMEX) Vice Minister Jhon Fonseca presented plans for a $4 million checkpoint months after Nicaragua completed its own facility and a bridge crossing the San Juan River.
The Las Tablillas checkpoint will be located at Los Chiles, Alajuela, and could be provisionally operational as early as April.
The COMEX official estimated that Las Tablillas could absorb 40 percent of the cargo and migration traffic from the Peñas Blancas crossing, currently the only official land crossing between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Fonseca said the new border crossing, along with completion of the Vuela Kooper-Chilamate Highway would shave off 120 kilometers of travel for drivers hauling goods overland from the Caribbean coast into Nicaragua.
“This checkpoint will regulate the movement of people and give us greater certainty in areas that concern us, such as children crossing the border alone, illegal migration, illicit trade, contraband [and] drug trafficking. The checkpoint will allow the Costa Rican government to better address these dynamics,” Fonseca said.
The crossing will be monitored by border, customs, drug control and immigration police, as well as officials from the Health Ministry. Exit and export taxes provided the funds for the project.
President Luis Guillermo Solís said he hopes the new facilities will create jobs in the north-central region of the country, as well as bring new infrastructure improvements, including electrical, telecommunications and water lines.
According to Immigration Administration spokeswoman Heidy Bonilla, currently there is no migration checkpoint at Las Tablillas. National Police patrol the Costa Rican side, but only a simple fence blocks people or traffic from crossing the bridge.
Nicaragua, meanwhile, has completed its half of the border crossing. The government inaugurated on Aug. 31 the Santa Fe Bridge over the San Juan River, the daily La Nación reported. The bridge was built with funds from the Japanese government.