No Excuses: Guanacaste Municipalities Have Access to Funds to Fix Roads Damaged By Otto

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The municipalities that say they lack funds to fix roads in communities affected by Hurricane Otto are making excuses. The money’s there, it just requires municipal officials to make the effort to secure it.

Bagaces, La Cruz and Liberia, the cantons most damaged by the hurricane, can use funds as outlined by laws 9329 and 8114, as well as money from the National Emergency Commission (CNE).

Law 9329 (which transfers funds to municipalities to maintain cantonal roadways) and Law 8114 (regarding tax simplification and efficiency) state that in special circumstances caused by natural disasters the original use of these resources can be modified to include roads damaged by those disasters, according to Marlon Ávalos, spokesman for the Institute for Municipal Development.

A specific case is the road connecting the community of San Bernardo with Bagaces Centro. According to Cristina Ruiz, social liaison at Bagaces’ Roadway Technical Management Department, repairs to this unpaved section of road were not included in the 2017 budget, but due to the severe damage caused by the hurricane, officials are evaluating a modification of the already approved budget to include it.

Another instrument municipalities have to invest in roads is the CNE’s National Emergency Plan.

To use those resources, local administrations have a period of two months starting from the declaration of a national emergency to file a report outlining damages.

That report must show a causal relation between the emergency and the damage, and it must be proportional to the magnitude of the emergency.

CNE spokesman Reinaldo Carballo said that municipalities have no excuse for failing to repair or rebuild roads that were damaged by the hurricane.

“Funds exist for reconstruction of bridges and roads. Once municipalities file the papers that justify repairs, the design and contracting process starts for bridges and roads,” he said.

Municipalities Identify Roadway Damage

In Bagaces, the municipality has repaired roads in Cuipilapa, Río Naranjo, Santa Fe, San Pedro and Las Parcelas. They’ve also cleared riverbeds on the Cuipilapa and Blanco rivers.

Nevertheless, according to the Bagaces Technical Department, a formal evaluation of damage won’t be ready until January.

In Liberia, the most affected sectors are Quebrada Grande in the district of Mayorga, and a few streets in the central district, according to a report by Technical Department engineer Dorian Ulate.

In La Cruz, the most deteriorated streets are in Santa Cecilia, Armenia, El Caoba, San Rafael and Belice.

Victor Reyes, an engineer that head’s La Cruz’s Technical Department, said these roads will be included in the department’s five-year plan.