Health Ministry extends deadline to perform improvements at Manuel Antonio

February 24, 2017

The administration of Manuel Antonio National Park failed to comply with a Health Ministry deadline to conduct improvement works in the park’s infrastructure, prompting the Ministry to extend the deadline for three additional months.

Ministry officials reported that they reached an agreement with Environment Ministry (MINAE) officials to extend the deadline, issued last week. The Health Ministry had issued a sanitary order asking the park’s administration to perform a series of improvements in the national park, the most visited in the country.

Health Ministry staff conducted an inspection of the park on Tuesday morning and concluded that problems with the toilets’ drainage system, the drinking water supply system, and accessibility standards persist.

“The only compliance was with improvements on the park’s emergency plan,” inspectors reported.

Petition

The extension comes after MINAE officials presented a petition asking for more time to resolve the park’s problems. The petition detailed current actions being performed to address the issues, and indicated that most of the work would be done through public bids to private contractors.

MINAE indicated it will allocate ₡550 million ($970,000) to repair damaged infrastructure, build tourist trails and fix the drainage and the water supply systems.

One of the Health Ministry’s main requests to the park administration was that new tourist trails meet accessibility standards, according to provisions of local legislation. MINAE reported that new trails they are building provide “all required measures to address visual, motor, hearing and sensory disabilities.”

Legislative Assembly hearing

On Tuesday afternoon, the Legislative Committee on Environmental Issues asked Environment Minister Édgar Gutiérrez to appear before them on Thursday evening to explain the situation at the park. Committee members will ask Gutiérrez to explain the reasons for failing to comply with the Health Ministry deadline.

Social Christian Unity Party legislator Gerardo Vargas said at the committee session that MINAE has a lot of explaining to do regarding Manuel Antonio’s management, and that their handling of the park “leaves much to be desired.”

He added that problems at Manuel Antonio affect thousands of people, “not only tourists, but also local residents who depend on businesses related to the park’s attractions.”

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