Under the terms of the contract, the selected consortium will provide platform equipment and cranes and construct the port buildings. The consortium will also operate the port, which local authorities say will be one of the largest deepwater ports in the Mediterranean, for a minimum of 20 years. Financing will be arranged by the selected group, and TMSA officials say that a number of development and commercial banks have already expressed an interest in providing loans.

Plans for the construction of a major port on the Mediterranean coast were first mooted early last year as part of a wider strategy to promote economic development in the kingdom’s traditionally marginalised northern provinces. The Tangier-Med development is expected to play a major role in enhancing infrastructure and improving conditions in the impoverished region. In addition to the port and the development of several free zones in the hinterland, the project also entails the construction of a 61-kilometre highway connecting the port to the existing Tangier-Rabat motorway, and a new railway link to Tangier.

Total costs for the entire project are put at $1,000 million, of which private financing will be required to cover the majority of the costs for the $390 million port and $210 million free zones. The government will supply the $310 million required for the interconnecting transport infrastructure and the $90 million needed for installing water, power and telephone networks.

A consortium led by France’s Bouygues Groupwas awarded the $246 million contract in June for preliminary port works, including dredging. The UK’s Halcrow Groupis the construction supervisor (MEED 20:6:03).