Two construction contracts and one construction supervision contract were also awarded to local and international firms for a new 278-kilometre paved road between Haiya and Atbara.

China’s CICOwas awarded the contract to build a 150-kilometre section of the new road, while a joint venture between Progressive Constructionand Larsen &Toubro, both of India, and the local TLCis to build a second 128-kilometre section. The contracts are for the construction and paving with asphalt of a seven-metre-wide road with hard shoulders. It also includes the construction of bridges, crossings, drainage and other auxiliary works. The supervising engineer for both projects is a joint venture between the local Ashraf & Salah Consulting Engineers (SAC) and Kuwait’s Associated Engineering Partnership.

The new road will cut about 300 kilometres off the 1,172-kilometre journey between Khartoum and Port Sudan.

The link between the two cities will be completed with the strengthening of the existing 206-kilometre road between Haiya and Port Sudan. The Egyptian contractor El-Nasr General Contracting Company (Hassan Allam),together with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Mobty for Trading & Contracting Company,was awarded in mid-October the contract to upgrade the road.

The joint venture will lay a 50-millemetre-thick asphalt layer over the existing road and strengthen the shoulders and side slopes. The contractor is also required to upgrade drainage and widen some parts of the road. The supervising consultant for the rehabilitation work is a company identified as the local Technon, with Lebanon’s Khatib & Alami.

The $120 million project is scheduled for completion in early 2006. The scheme is 70 per cent funded by an $90 million, 25-year loan from the Kuwait-based Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development. The remaining $30 million is from the government. The design consultant for the entire project was a team of the local Newtech with Jordan’s Consolidated Consultants.

El-Nasr has also been awarded the contract to build the Egyptian portion of a 280-kilometre highway along the Red Sea from the Egyptian border to Port Sudan. News of the award came after Khartoum and Cairo signed on 2 November an agreement to build the road, which will be the first asphalted road between the two countries. Funding for the $88 million scheme will be split equally between the two governments. The Sudan section will be built by a joint venture between Higlieg Petroleumand Lukluk, both local.