Afghanistan seeks equipment for $694m project

The first tranche of one of Afghanistan’s largest infrastructure projects is holding a rebidding for private sector bidders to supply loading equipment.

The government of Afghanistan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have put one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects up for partial rebidding, hoping to attract private sector suppliers of loading and unloading equipment for the construction of 290 kilometres of road, according to an ADB statement.

Tranche 1 makes up $189 million of the $694 million Transport Network Development Investment Program, and is already well underway, with portions of the roads and railroads between 62 percent and 34 percent completed, according to the ADB website. However, certain parts of the project – namely, the supply of loading and unloading equipment – did not garner a warm reception when they were first put up to bid early last year.

According to Mookiah Thiruchelvam, ADB’s transport specialist in Afghanistan, the programme is simply looking for the private sector bidder which can supply the needed materials at the cheapest cost. So far, this bidding tender has received a much better response than the last time, he said, and he expects the bid to be successful.

The transport public-private partnership is formed on a simple build-transfer model, Thiruchelvam explained. Afghanistan will pay the private sector for their services out of the $694 million grant that ADB has allocated to the project.

However, ADB and the Afghan government have set some specifications for the private contractors that can bid. Thiruchelvam expects that most bidders will be international. “We’re hoping for a process that attracts firms that have experience actually building roads in Asia,” he said. The project’s expected date of completion is in 2017.

As Afghanistan prepares for a withdrawal of the international security assistance forces and an expected decrease in foreign aid this year, the nation’s main investment goals include “infrastructure investments that will lead to higher economic growth, connecting poor people to markets, and increasing access of poor people to basic productive assets and social services,” according to the ADB website. Energy, transport, and natural resources have been identified as the sectors with the most need.