Colombia approves 10th 4G private initiative

In order to keep its highway programme rolling in the face of low oil prices, Colombia has shifted strategy to lean more heavily on the private sector.

Colombia's National Council for Economic and Social Policy (CONPES) has approved the Buga-Buenaventura Port Road in Valle del Cauca, the 10th privately originated project proposal to form part of the 4G highway programme. 

“With this private initiative we will be able to construct a 26.5 second lane fulfilling our commitment to provide a dual carriageway for the entirety of the corridor, and ensure the operation and maintenance of the entire length of the road,” Colombian minister of transportation Natalia Abello Vives said in a statement. 

In the face of budget constraints arising from the long-lasting oil slump, Colombia has shifted its 4G deployment strategy in order to keep the pipeline of  projects moving forward at a steady pace. The cabinet is also considering an 11th private initiative, the Zipaquira-Barbosa proposal, which calls for the construction of a dual carriageway between Zipaquira and Chiquinquira.

The COP1 billion ($319 million; €282 million) Buga-Buenaventura project will cut travel times for load transporters from the port of Buenaventura by roughly two hours. It will also reduce passenger vehicle times by one hour, according to Agencia Nacional de Infraestructura (ANI), Colombia's PPP agency.

Included in the scope of the project is the construction of two tunnels, 7.5km of bike paths between Buga and Loboguerrero and viaduct overpasses to allow for the free flow of water into the Colombian Midwest. Once operational, the concessionaire for the project – which is yet to be awarded – will also be responsible for the operation of 21 tunnels along the Citronella-Loboguerrero section of the highway.

As part of its 4G plan to add 8,000km of modern highways to its national road network, Colombia has so far invested COP2.3 billion of its own capital through ANI and Invias, the national institute.