Honduras opens international highway tender

With limited interest in other recent tenders, Honduras hopes to find a private partner to help develop its southern corridor.

Despite recent failures to attract bidders for infrastructure public-private partnership (PPP; P3) projects in Honduras, the government is giving it another go with the opening of a new tender for the finance, construction, expansion and renovation of roughly 85 kilometers of Highway CA-5 South. 

The prequalification period began on July 24, and will remain open until mid-September, after which all prequalified firms will then have a chance to bid on the project. 

Highway CA-5 is one on the principal national corridors, integrating the northern and central regions of Honduras and linking to Ruta CA-1 and Ruta CA-3, which connect the country with neighbors Nicaragua and El Salvador.

According to project documents, the tender calls for the contracted party to construct, expand and renovate four separate sections of Highway CA-5 South between Tegucigalpa and Jicaro Galan. The first section includes 5 kilometres (km) of a peripheral ring road intersection to Aldea Santa Rosa; the second, a 20-km detour to Aldea Santa Rosa and Sicatare; the third section is a 24-km detour to Sicatare – La Venta del Sur; the fourth and final section is a 37.18-km section of highway from La Vente Del Sur to Jicaro Galan.

With support from the World Bank and in conjunction with Director General of Highways Walter Maldonado, the executive agency overseeing the project is the Secretary of Infrastructure and Public Services (INSEP). Private partners will be pre-qualified according to the procedures of the Banco Centroamericano de Integracion Economica (BCIE). 

According to El Heraldo, a Tegucigalpa-based daily newspaper, the government will utilise a credit from a loan for expansion and modernisation of Puerto Cortes, which was signed in December 2010. To date, only $911,106 was ever disbursed for the project, and Honduras now plans to use the remaining $130.9 million to develop the southern section of CA-5.

Honduran governmental P3 agency Coalianza has previously stated that the roughly 88-km section of the roadway that will be offered to the private sector for development in the recently-opened tender will cost roughly $69.3 million to complete, according to the report.

The most recent transportation P3 attempt in Honduras fell by the wayside when none of the four pre-qualified firms submitted bids for the contract to rehabilitate Highway CA-4 in June. The country's P3 agency has also struggled to attract bidders for the redevelopment of the Palmerola Airport, having launched multiple tenders for that project in recent years.

But even with these failures in mind, Honduras is making some progress through P3 projects. Another attempted road tender found success in April, when commercial close was reached between Coalianza and the consortium Autopistas del Atlantico on a $150 million, 30-year concession contract for the Corridor Turistico P3 project that will see more than 120 kilometers of tolled northern highway constructed.

Coalianza did not reply to requests for information regarding the Highway CA-5 South project. According to the project documents, in order to prequalify interested parties must submit bids by 2 pm on September 17.