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Afro-Caribbean Day in Costa Rica: Government Promises New Cruise Ship Terminal

The Caribbean province of Limón will have a new cruise ship terminal thanks to a ₡93 million ($166,000) government investment, President Luis Guillermo Solís said.

That’s one of the commitments Solís made during a three-day trip to the province, which culminated in the celebration of Afro-Caribbean Day on Wednesday.

Funds for the project will come from a joint contribution from the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) and the Atlantic Port Authority (JAPDEVA), the president reported.

The new cruise ship terminal is part of the government’s efforts to promote economic and social development in the province, Solís said.

Other projects announced during the president’s Limón trip include improvements to public schools, public roads and aqueducts. He also allocated financial resources for public security, agriculture and aid to indigenous communities.

Cruise ship market

Tourism Minister Mauricio Ventura said Tuesday that one of the government’s goals is to improve Limón’s infrastructure to attract more tourism, specially from the cruise ship sector.

Ventura said the cruise ship business has always been good for the country and particularly for the Caribbean region, but has declined in recent years.

According to ICT data, 147 cruise ships arrived in Limón during the 2009-2010 season. The figure dropped to 65 during the 2014-2015 season.

Ventura said the government is evaluating the reasons behind the decline. “We need to assess whether it was caused by a lack of promotion, infrastructure problems or higher costs,” he said.

The 2015-2016 season, however, showed improvement with 107 cruise ship arrivals from October to March, JAPDEVA reported.

The government’s cruise terminal plan includes a strategy to boost Limón’s international image as a tourist destination.

Rebuilding Liberty Hall

The good news for Limón on Wednesday included the presentation of plans to rebuild the province’s historic Liberty Hall. Most commonly known as the Black Star Line building, it was considered the most representative example of Caribbean architecture in Limón before a fire destroyed most of its structure in April.

Private firm Zürcher Arquitectos presented Solís with the draft of the project for the reconstruction of the new building, in its same location. The company donated the final blueprints and budget for the project.

Construction is scheduled to start in early 2017.

William Monge, director of the Culture Ministry’s Heritage Conservation Center, said the new Liberty Hall will look just like it did when it opened in 1922. He also said initial plans estimate the construction will take approximately six months.

The ministry allocated ₡150 million ($268,000) for the project but officials also expect to get additional funds through donations from private companies and other public agencies.

Black Star Line. Liberty Hall render. Afro Caribbean Day. Aug. 31 2016
(Via Culture Ministry)

Cargo terminal

The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) also announced plans to break ground on a new road to Limón’s future container terminal.

The four-lane road is key to the operation of the new terminal under construction in Moín. It will connect the cargo port with Route 32, the main highway between Limón and the country’s Central Valley.

Private contractor Consorcio del Atlántico, formed by companies Meco and Puentes y Calzadas, won the public bid for the $71 million project.

The plan is to complete the 2.1 kilometer road in two stages over the next 15 months.

MOPT officials estimate that the first two lanes should be completed by July, before the terminal’s first berth begins to operate in September 2017.

The other two lanes should be ready in November, ahead of the second berth’s inauguration in 2018.

Construction of the Moín container port is expected to create an estimated 700 jobs, many of which are to be filled by Limón residents.

More than eighty percent of Costa Rica’s exports pass through Limón ports, according to the Foreign Trade Ministry.

L. Arias
L. Arias
Reporter | The Tico Times |

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