A new cargo ferry service with the capacity to transport up to 100 semitrailers each trip between Costa Rica and El Salvador will launch operations in July, Public Works and Transport (MOPT) Vice Minister Sebastián Urbina said Thursday.
The ferry will travel three times a week each way between the Puntarenas port of Caldera and La Unión port in El Salvador, both on the Pacific coast.
MOPT estimates a one-way trip will take about 16 hours, compared to the current driving time of up to five days by road.
“Add to that the countless hours truck drivers must spend at customs at every border,” Urbina said.
The vice minister said the new ferry route would boost competitiveness in the region. For Costa Rica it will help reduce costs, decongest traffic at the Peñas Blancas border with Nicaragua and considerably reduce time spent complying with red tape.
Spanish shipping company Naviera El Odiel will manage the ferry route, with departures from El Salvador on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from Costa Rica on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Odiel President Javier Villafante said the new ferry would benefit commerce across Central America. The company initially expects to move 60 semis on every one-way trip and reach 100 within the first six months of operation.
The reduction in the number of trucks circulating across the country will also have a positive effect on the environment and on the conditions of the national roadway system.
“It also will improve safety for drivers who face constant dangers while passing through many insecure areas of the region,” Urbina said.
The vice minister last year said a passenger ferry is planned for the project’s second phase, although a timetable for that is still under evaluation.