Colombia says it has revived $15bn road building programme

Colombia is to have 70% of its massive Fourth Generation (4G) road-building programme financed and under construction by March, President Iván Duque Márquez said this week.

The 4G scheme, which has been called the most ambitious in the country’s history, envisages the construction or upgrading of 8,000km of road, including 1,200km of four-lane highways, with most of the projects being procured as privately financed projects.

The $15bn programme began in May 2014 with the tendering of the Pacifico 2 Highway, but afterwards struggled to attract bidders owing to concerns over the return on investment, and the works are now considered unlikely to be complete before their original deadline of 2021.

It was also hit by corruption scandals swirling around giant Brazilian contractor Odebrecht.

Duque told 400 delegates to an economic conference in the city of Cartagena that the 4G was now back on track. He said: "We have put in motion a plan of economic reactivation and in March we will have 70% of 4G projects financed and in the execution phase. Colombia needs us to advance on these projects and we will bet on finishing these projects."

He also referred to the building of the Tunnel Line, a project to cross the country’s Central Mountain Range, from Cajamarca to Calarcá, with 24 bridges and 20 tunnels.

This was originally due to be delivered in 2013, but was delayed by geological problems and disputes with between the government and its contractors. Duque said that this would be complete in December of 2020, with its main element, the 8.6km "macrotúnel", complete in in May 2020.

Duque did not say how much of 4G was currently financed.

Image: Cafetal viaduct, part of the Tunnel Line across the Colombian Andes  (CamiloB4/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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