The government plans to issue tenders in 2013 for completion works of the flagship East-West motorway project, according to a statement by the Public Works Minister, Amar Ghoul, in early November.

The work comprises the provision of 55 toll stations, 76 roadside rest areas and 22 service centres to manage and ensure the safety of the new road. The client is Naftal, the state-owned refined petroleum distribution arm.

The 22 service centres will be managed by a consortium of the state-owned road management agency, Algerienne de Gestion des Autoroutes (AGA), and an international partner. The management contract will have a duration of between five to seven years, after which the road will be locally managed.

The 1,216-km road, which will link Algeria’s borders with Morocco and Tunisia across the north of the country, is almost complete. But the project is several years behind the original target date of 2009, due to a combination of contractual disputes, land rights issues and allegations of corruption at the Public Works Ministry.

The project is designed to promote economic growth in the country, but has been criticised for taking passing trade away from the towns that are now bypassed by the new motorway. An estimated 60 per cent of traffic in Algeria will use the road, according to government figures.

The setting of tolls for the new road is also a controversial issue, given the high level of poverty and wide income inequality in Algeria. The government is currently reviewing technical and financial studies carried out into the proposed toll system.

According to Ghoul, the cost of using the road will “not be high” compared to toll roads in Morocco, Tunisia and southern Europe. The proposals envisage eight price levels, depending on the impact of a particular vehicle on the road.