Technical bids were opened on 22 January from five groups for the 169-kilometre central section between Bordj Bou Arreridj near Setif and Khemis Meliana, east of Chlef. The bidders are: a consortium of Vinci and Razel, both of France, and Germany’s Bilfinger Berger; a team of China State Construction Engineering Corporation and China Harbour Engineering Company; a consortium of China’s CITIC and China Railway Construction Corporation; a four-strong Italian group of Impregilo, CMC di Ravenna, Todini Costruzioni Generali and Impresa; and Luso, a 14-member Portuguese consortium.

Five bids were received on 23 January for the 359-kilometre western section between Khemis Meliana and the border with Morocco. The bidders are: the US’ Bechtel; Luso; the Italian team; and the two Chinese groups.

Five bids were received on 21 January for the eastern section between Bordj Bou Arreridj and the Tunisian border from a total of 15 international companies, including Bechtel and firms from Japan, China and Italy.

Almost 300 kilometres of the highway is either completed or under construction. The six-lane road, due for completion in 2009, will support 90 per cent of Algeria’s overland trade and form part of the planned trans-Maghreb highway. The client is Agence National des Autoroutes.