A new cargo ferry will begin operating in January between Costa Rica and El Salvador, Transport Vice Minister Sebastián Urbina said this week.
The new transportation service’s main goal is to reduce transport costs between the countries and boost competitiveness, he said.
Currently, it costs between $1,200 and $1,500 for a semitrailer to travel between the two countries. Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) officials estimate the cost of the trip will be reduced to around $750 with the ferry.
The ferry will be operated by a Mexican shipping company (Urbina did not disclose its name) and will be able to carry 100 trucks each trip. The company will initially offer three trips per week from each country, Urbina said.
The new service will reduce red tape and the impact on public roads and trucks, and will help decongest traffic at the Peñas Blancas border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
“In addition it will help truckers avoid security problems they face in some areas of the route,” Urbina noted.
The opening of the new ferry route required several months of negotiations between Salvadoran and Costa Rican officials from a wide range of agencies, including security, agriculture, finance and immigration.
MOPT estimates that a one-way trip on the ferry will take around 16 hours, compared to the current two to five days that it takes a semitrailer to cross the distance by road. The road trip is also delayed by immigration procedures at border checkpoints in Nicaragua and Honduras.
Urbina said a passenger ferry is planned for the project’s second phase, although he didn’t say when that might happen.
The ferry will depart from El Salvador on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from Costa Rica on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.