Colombia said Thursday it will accept bids from prominent international contracting firms for two massive highway projects estimated to cost a total of almost $3.2 billion.
15 multinational bidding groups comprised of corporations from Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Switzerland, Austria, India, China, Chile, France, Costa Rica and Italy (Construcciones Rubau, Ferrovial Sacyr, Acciona, OHL, Grupo Ortiz, Impregilo, Odebrecht, Mota Engil and ACS) have received pre-clearance to bid on two of the five projects planned for the first phase of the government’s “Highways for Prosperity” program.
19 total groups made up of over 50 smaller companies will compete for the five contracts, with 10 groups bidding on each individual project.
At stake are rights to build and maintain 668 kilometers of highway. The construction itself could be done as soon as June of 2014, according to government estimates, and the contracts for operating and maintaining the highways would extend through 2039.
The Santos government has called its “Highways for Prosperity” initiative a “revolution in Colombian infrastructure,” claiming it will create 23,000 jobs during the construction process alone and bring “enormous benefits to the entire country” by completing the “corridors needed to make Colombia competitive” in the global economy.
But critics of the government have denounced the corruption they say is governing the bidding processes and expressed fears that most of the public money being invested in the project will wind up in the hands of the “foreign interests destroying Colombian industry.”
Government officials did not respond to a request for comment, but a press release on the “Highways for Prosperity” website says that the ANI is committed to creating an “environment of cordiality and transparency” around the contracting process and providing Colombians with work from “Colombian and foreign firms with high levels of experience and recognition.”
According to statements made by the ANI president, contracts for the first phase of “Highways for Prosperity” will be given out by the end of February of next year and construction on the five projects will begin soon after, with an estimated completion date for the first round of construction set for the end of 2015.