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Colombia launches waterway PPP at COP26

The Magdalena river crossing the city of Barrancabermeja, Colombia

The Colombian government has kicked off the tender process for the Magdalena Riverway PPP with an announcement at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow

Colombian president Iván Duque launched the riverway project to restore navigability of a critical river linking inland areas with the coast during his speech on Tuesday at COP26.

This followed publication by the national infrastructure agency (ANI) on Monday (1 November) of draft specifications for the PPP.

Duque told COP26: “Managing the river means that we value the importance of intermodal transport more than ever. It means that our country’s development agenda, which should be cleaner, combines opportunities for connections between the interior of our country and the Caribbean coast, and exports, through intermodality.”

Bidders have around 4 weeks to review draft specifications and request clarifications. Final bid documents will be published shortly thereafter, with ANI aiming to award the contract in Q1 2022.

ANI is offering the project as a 15.5-year concession (DBFOM) with total investment estimated at Ps 1.5 trillion ($397m), including capex of Ps 450 billion.

The proposed concession – part of Colombia’s fifth generation of infrastructure investments – aims to ensure navigability of the river between Barrancabermeja and Bocas de Ceniza through channelling, dredging, and improved monitoring and signalling.

Construction is expected to begin in H2 2022 and take 4.5 years, creating a 668km stretch of navigable river. Works will include:

  • 2 systems of locks (Calamar and Puerto Badel)

  • gates (Calamar)

  • interconnection works

Transport minister Ángela María Orozco said: “With this waterway project we are taking an important step to further Colombia’s goal of becoming a leader in developing sustainable infrastructure. The benefits of this concession go beyond the commercial aspect.

“Transporting cargo along the Magdalena river has the potential for annual emissions reductions that could reach 190,000 metric tonnes by 2030. According to estimates, cargo transport along the river translates to an emissions reduction of around 62% per tonne transported when compared with the emissions produced through traditional modes of goods transport, such as by land.”

ANI and Cormagdalena have structured the project with technical support from the IDB and IDB Invest. Other advisers include:

  • EY – financial

  • Durán & Osorio Abogados – legal

  • Instituto Alexander von Humboldt – technical

  • Royal Haskoning DHV – technical

  • Universidad del Norte – technical

  • Environmental Resources Management – environmental

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