Three of eight shortlisted groups submitted offers in February for the 30-month contract to construct the 31-kilometre stretch of dual-carriageway from Tnine Chtouka to El-Jadida. They are: Turkey’s Dogus; a group of seven French and local companies led by Deschironof France; and a local/Egyptian grouping of El-Hajji, Arab Contractors (Osman Ahmed Osman & Company)and Houar(MEED 21:2:03).

The contract has now been split into two packages, with the major construction works for the viaduct over Oued Oum Er Rbia being tendered independently from the road construction. The bridge is expected to take 29 months to build, while the contract duration for the highway is 32 months, enabling the road to open to traffic in 2006. Companies have until 30 June to submit bids for the two contracts.

A group led by El-Hajji is expected to complete work by mid-September on the first stage of the motorway, stretching from Casablanca to Had Soualem. Construction has started on the second phase, a 35-kilometre section from Had Soualem to Tnine Chtouka, which is being built by Kuwait’s Burhan International Contracting Company. The section is due for completion in mid-2005 (MEED 10:1:03).

The upgrade of the motorway running between the commercial capital and the new industrial town of El-Jadida is expected to ease congestion and shorten the travelling time. The estimated $190 million project is being financed by loans from the Kuwait-based Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development, the Kuwait fund for Arab Economic Development and the European Investment Bank. SNAM will also contribute to the funding.