Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport has extended the bid deadline for its $2.7bn public-private partnership (PPP) project to build a motorway from Mafraq to Ghweifat until 24 December.

Sources close to the deal say the department pushed back the deadline to give interested companies more time after the Eid al-Adha and National Day holidays in the UAE, to prepare bids.

Some bidders had requested an extension to the original deadline of 6 December.

The 24 December extension is the third time the department has delayed the bid deadline. The original deadline was 30 September, which the department pushed back until 12 November and then 6 December.

According to the sources, the government repeatedly delayed the project because, as the first road PPP in the region, it is unusually complex.

Abu Dhabi has prequalified five consortiums to bid for the project, but the Bouygues Travaux Publics group has pulled out of the bidding process.

The remaining bidders are the Irtibaat consortium led by Australia’s Macquarie, which is being advised by France’s BNP Paribas, and also has financial support from Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Jordan’s Arab Bank; the Mafraq Motorway Group, led by Austria’s Strabag, which is being advised by France’s Calyon; the Anite consortium, led by Italy’s Autostrade Per l’Italia and Dubai’s Al-Naboobah Construction Group; and the CCCC-MTD consortium, a joint venture of China Communications Construction Company and MTD Capital.

Ernst & Young is advising the Department of Transport.