Santa Cruz-Puerto Suárez highway construction to conclude at end-2009

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The construction of Bolivia's Santa Cruz-Puerto Suárez highway will conclude in 2009, national highway administrator ABC's road maintenance manager Ramiro Heredia was quoted as saying by local paper El Deber.

The 586km highway is part of a bi-oceanic initiative, of which 380km have already been paved, while 206km have yet to be finished, the report said.

The consortium Odebrecht-IASA finished the construction of the 108km El Carmen-Arroyo Concepción stretch, which will be delivered to ABC this week, and President Evo Morales is slated to inaugurate the stretch officially in a couple of weeks, Heredia added.

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This stretch required a US$75mn investment, while consultancy works - carried out by the consortium Acoplan-CGL - required an additional US$3.1mn. The project was fully financed by the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), the report said.

The bi-oceanic highway stretch will reduce travel time between Santa Cruz and Puerto Suárez from 18 hours to 12 hours, benefitting exporters whose transport costs will decrease, Heredia said.

However, the 124km Paraíso-El Tinto highway stretch, under the responsibility of the consortium Apolo-IASA, and the 82km El Tinto-San José stretch, being carried out by the firm Astaldi, are behind schedule and will be completed next year.

Only 35% of the two remaining highway stretches has been completed and works are expected to be paralyzed over the next few days due to heavy rains.

The construction of the Paraíso-El Tinto stretch is being financed by IDB (84%) and the Santa Cruz department government (16%).

The construction of the El Tinto-San José stretch is being financed by the EU, which provided 76% of project cost, while the departmental government will cover the remainder.

Both projects are expected to conclude in November 2009.

According to the firms, delays are mainly the result of diesel scarcity in the country.