Studies on the road, which has a total length of some 460 kilometres, were carried out in three packages. Germany’s Dorsch Consult prepared designs for sections one and three while the UK’s Halcrow – which is carrying out a city masterplan for Aden – studied the middle section (MEED 6:6:03).

The three-lane road will run through swathes of mountainous territory and will include more than 10 tunnels, including one 2.5 kilometres-long. It aims to cut the journey time between the two cities to about four hours from eight hours today.

Designs have been prepared according to three options, the lowest costing about $800 million and the most expensive priced at some $1,600 million. However, the cheapest option is understood to be unfavoured by the government because of the lack of connections to intervening towns.

Several financing options are being discussed. The project could be carried out on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. Funds could be sought from a recent overarching agreement between China and Yemen for Beijing to invest some $1,000 million in projects in the country. Sanaa might also approach the Arab funding agencies or seek finance through the GCC/Yemen dialogue process.

Other road work is planned on a smaller scale around Aden. A design tender is under preparation for an estimated $55 million project to build a flyover linking the port at Ma’alla to Aden Container Terminal. The scheme is part of the Halcrow masterplan (MEED 16:6:06).