San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Moín Port project

Court rejects final appeal against Moín Port expansion; construction to start within 2 months

The Supreme Court’s Civil and Administrative Law Branch recently rejected the final pending appeal against a port renovation and expansion project by APM Terminal, a Maersk subsidiary based in the Netherlands. The lawsuit attempted to block the $1 billion project on the country’s Caribbean coast by claiming that APM’s exclusive 33-year concession to operate the container terminal is an illegal monopoly.

“This decision reaffirms the importance of the new container terminal in Moín,” Paul Gallie, general director for APM Terminals in Central America, said in a press release to local news outlets. “We need a competitive and modern port.”

The project aims to update Costa Rica’s ailing port structure, which currently ranks 140th of 144 countries, according to the World Economic Forum. The new terminal will upgrade Costa Rica’s most frequented port to receive modern post-Panamax ships, which can transport up to 12,000 containers at a time.

Since its announcement, the port project has been met with support from the government and business communities and contention from environmentalists and the port workers’ union, Sintrajap. Construction initially was slated to begin in September 2013, but lawsuits and the permitting process have delayed it by more than a year.

With the final lawsuit out of the way, APM Terminals is scheduled to break ground within the next two months. However, the company still is waiting for approval by the Environment Ministry’s National Technical Secretariat of a 3,000-page environmental impact assessment.


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Gaby Hobart

It is astonishing to watch how Costa Rica, a democratic country, pushes its interest in this harbour project by expropriating people and demolishing their homes along the Moin beach without following the law to give residents the legal 2 month time frame to search for a new home. Last Friday houses, standing where the access road is being built, were taken down with heavy machines and the owners had not even received any compensation yet …

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Aitor Xaranga

There is still one last step: The Environmental Agency. Hopefully they will not follow in their long tradition of obstructing progress with irrational decrees, applicable only in cases where private enterprise stands to gain, while turning a blind eye to government-sponsored environmental catastrophes such as the ill-fated Lake Arenal basin and Embalse Cachi, which are poorly administered from an ecological POV. Not to mention the irresponsible complicity in allowing the pollution of rivers by millions of tons of raw sewage, as witnessed in Tarcoles river, where the resident crocodile population is going blind from pollution levels that parallel that of sewer tank trucks!

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