Contrack International, the US-based affiliate of Egypt’s Orascom Construction Industries (OCI), has been awarded a $19 million contract to supply water resources to the West Bank town of Bethlehem. The award was announced on 19 September by the client, the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The main competitors for the job were Bill Harbert International, Morganti, JA Jones Construction Company and ABB SUSA, all US-based. In all, nine companies bid for the contract.

The project, scheduled to be completed in 2002, involves drilling four new wells, constructing four pumping stations and laying 17 kilometres of water transmission pipelines. USAID’s current water resources programme in the Palestinian autonomous areas, which includes the Bethlehem project, is expected to exceed $250 million and could be increased further if a peace deal is concluded. A similar $600 million programme is currently underway in Jordan.

This is the first time that Contrack has been awarded a construction contract in the West Bank and Gaza. However, OCI is already involved in the Palestinian market through its joint venture with the Swiss cement giant Holderbank in Palestine Cement Company (MEED 14:4:00).