Comuneros Wins Zipaquira-Bucaramanga Concession

Thursday, December 27, 2001

Colombian consortium Los Comuneros has won a reverse auction for the Zipaquira-Bucaramanga highway concession, presenting the lowest solicited income from tolls of US$33.5mn.

Los Comuneros' only competitor in the bidding process, another Colombian consortium made up of Mario Huertas-Construcciones El Condor-CEIN, asked for US$49mn from toll revenues. Los Comuneros is led by Consorcio Vial de Cartagena. Work on the stretch is estimated to cost US$27mn.

The terms of the concession, drawn up and overseen by Colombian bank Corporacion Financiera del Valle (Corfivalle), contemplate a minimum seven-year contract, although the concession remains valid until the concessionaire recoups the amount solicited from tolls, Corfivalle analyst Andres Restrepo told BNamericas.

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The concession involves upgrading the 377km highway stretch from Zipaquira on the outskirts of capital Bogota to inland city Bucaramanga in Santander department.

The project includes building an 8km bypass around Chinquiquira, besides maintenance of other sections of the highway. Work is expected to start in 2H02, and would finish in 2H03.

The Zipaquira-Bucaramanga concession is the first part of a total upgrade to the Zipaquira-Bucaramanga-Ye de Cienaga highway, linking Bogota with Colombia's Caribbean coast. The Bucaramanga-Ye de Cienaga stretch will be offered as a separate concession, while the whole project will need investment of US$167mn.

The highway is 942km long - including bypasses and access roads - and requires construction of new stretches, besides repaving of existing segments.

The second concession from Bucaramanga to Ye de Cienaga near Caribbean port Barranquilla will involve work on 535km of highway, and investment of US$140mn over 20 years.

Restrepo said Corfivalle is working on the legal aspects of the bidding documents for the second concession, and a date has not yet been set to start the bidding process.

The Zipaquira-Bucaramanga-Ye de Cienaga route was targeted as a priority for state highways agency Invias, which is focusing on linking inland production centers with the country's principal ports.