San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Public infrastructure

Streetside billboards in San José set for removal

Starting last month hundreds of advertising spaces along streets and at bus shelters around Costa Rica’s capital have gone blank. They now display stickers declaring them “CLAUSURADO,” closed, by the Municipality of San José and the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT).

Ad displays on San José sidewalks, or MUPIs as they are known here, are marketed by Equipamientos Urbanos de Costa Rica (EUCOR) under a contract with the municipality. The contract, which the company won in a public bid, expired in April, San José Mayor Sandra García Pérez said. That’s when problems began to surface.

“We informed the company about their contract expiration and then we began an inspection of all municipal spaces that allowed us to find several MUPIs placed in unauthorized locations,” García said.

The mayor said the contract only allowed EUCOR to place ads at bus shelters, not as freestanding ads along the city’s sidewalks.

The contract was signed during the previous administration of Mayor and ex presidential candidate Johnny Araya, and it did not include any provision regarding the ownership of the structures at the end of the contract. Therefore, García said, they all must go.

Plus, in early June the Comptroller General’s Office ordered the removal of all freestanding ad displays. Municipal officials informed the company that MUPIs had to be removed within 15 business days. Following that deadline, the city shut down any that remained.

“All MUPIs within our jurisdiction were shut down using stickers. Some 27 of them located along boulevards and other public spaces in downtown San José were removed,” García said.

Also on national routes

In addition to freestanding MUPIs on the capital’s sidewalks, MOPT’s Inspections and Demolitions Department shut down several others along national roads in the Central Valley. Freestanding ads are prohibited along national roadways except for inside bus shelters.

The department’s director Vinicio Barboza Ortiz said MOPT routinely removes unauthorized roadside ads during inspections.

In the past year inspections have found some 400 unauthorized MUPIs along national roads in the Central Valley alone, about 100 of them within the capital. Barboza added that MOPT’s most recent inspections coincided with those conducted by the municipality, but he said they weren’t related.

Barboza also said MOPT officials were drafting a new public bid to grant a contract for marketing advertising spaces along national roads. He said the bid conditions likely would be made public later this year.

Bid conditions for marketing ads at bus shelters in the capital’s central canton will also soon be made public, Mayor García said. She also confirmed that in coming days the municipality will be removing all remaining MUPIs, as the company has failed to do so.

“All those structures must be removed since under the provisions of the upcoming public bid, all interested companies must be granted equal conditions,” the mayor said.

The new bid’s wording will include detailed descriptions for the structures “as we are aiming at getting brand new bus shelters, according to parameters of the country’s current laws,” García said.

The Tico Times attempted to contact EUCOR representatives but hadn’t received a response as of Thursday afternoon.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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