Colombia to build 1,800 km highway to link with Venezuela

October 21st, 2008 - 12:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Bogota, Oct 21 (IANS) With an aim to improve trade in the region, Colombia is planning to build a nearly 1,800-km highway to link its Pacific coastal region with Venezuela, EFE news agency reported Tuesday, citing officials.”It’s a route we’ve been working on with the goal of improving competitiveness levels by connecting the most important Pacific port, Buenaventura, with the economic centres (of Colombia) Valle Cauca, the Coffee Axis and with country’s second-largest trade partner Venezuela,” said Alvaro Jose Soto, director of the Inco national concessions agency.

“The project should be completely finished in 2012,” the official said, adding that majority of the highway project along the Buenaventura-Bogota-Cucuta corridor had been granted to private firms, which were investing some $1.76 billion.

Cucuta is a Colombian city on the border with Venezuela.

The project also calls for spending $731 million in taxpayer money for three stretches that are to remain under public control.

The costliest segment of the public-held portion will be the border tunnel, which will cost some $312 million, according to the official.

The Inco director also said that eight firms, including companies from Spain, South Korea, Italy, China and Brazil, had expressed interest in the tunnel contract.

Some 50 percent of Colombia’s maritime exports pass through the port of Buenaventura, Soto said.

Some 1.85 million tonnes of merchandise worth more than $5 billion passed through Cucuta last year, according to official figures.

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