Confusion over €1bn Highway Contract

Libya Herald reports that two Italian consortia are in a bitter dispute over which has won a major Libyan road construction project worth approximately €963 million.

The Salini Impregilo Group announced two weeks ago that it will lead a consortium that has won the contract for the first 400 kilometres of the new Libyan coastal highway from the city of Marj to Emsaad, on the Egyptian border.

But according to the report, the news came as a surprise to rival bidder CMB JV, which includes the Emaco Group, which had tendered to do the work for €945 million.

The final announcement of the winning bid is due to be made by the Ras Ejder-Emssad Expressway Project Management (REEPM), the Libyan organisation responsible for commissioning the highway.

The day after Impregilo announced its success, the prime minister’s office confirmed that the contract had been let. It said that the project would take between two to three years and that the contract would be signed within two weeks. Work would begin within 30 days of the signing.

CMB has protested the result. The Libya Herald has seen legal correspondence that suggests that a first letter complaining about the announcement was rejected by the Prime Minister’s office and also by the REEMP management, in the latter case because the title of the addressee, was wrong.

Libya Herald also understands that REEMP then refused to accept courier delivery of the corrected letter of protest. The lawyers Tumi & Co therefore went to the Tripoli North, Primary Court to have the letter delivered to REEMP by a court bailiff. This was apparently done.

It is believed that there could be a meeting between the PM’s Office, Saddek Elkaber, the outgoing governor of the central bank and REEMP senior management, as early as tomorrow to confirm the winning tender.

Sources close to the deal have alleged that the CMB consortium had been told that, due to its pricing, it stood a good chance of winning the contract for the second part of the highway deal between the Tunisian border and Misrata, which is already designed and for which the tendering process opens next month.

Meanwhile someone close to the Impregilo-led consortium said that it was unlikely that the contract would actually be signed within the next six weeks. He declined to explain the delay. There are reports that the first of 2,000 workers that Impregilo says that it expects to employ on the project, have already begun preparatory work.

(Source: Libya Herald)

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