In an article titled Dr. Abderrahmane Mebtoul: “Algeria Still Faces Significant Challenges” written by Mohsen Abdelmoumen of the American Herald Tribune, a question relating to the development overruns of an Algerian motorway that crosses the country from its western Moroccan border to its eastern Tunisian one was tabled at the university professor.
In few words, the East-West motorway project was launched in 2009. Costing $11.2bn, it is considered as Algeria’s most important road project, and probably the most extensive public works project in the world.
It was scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2013 but was delayed by about a year. Some penetrating stretches to link coastal towns and seaports to this motorway are still pending to date.
The Algerian Government financed the project as part of a $60bn national economic and social recovery programme started in 2005. , and the works have generated over 100,000 jobs.
The project will cut travel times and provide better and safer access to the north of the country, stimulating economic development..
The picture above is of CREECUSA .
What are the reasons for the delays and additional costs accumulated on the East-West motorway and how administrative deficiencies can be explained?
The east-west motorway has a distance of 1 216 km with a cross-profile: 2 × 3 lanes where 24 Wilayas (Governorates) are served by having provided rest areas, service stations, truck stops and maintenance and operation centres of the highway. The East-West motorway has not changed the national road landscape since it has mainly followed the route of the National 4 and 5, which rally Algiers to Oran and Algiers to Constantine. On the other hand, it risks upsetting the economic life of the 19 Wilayas directly crossed and 24 served. In a country where 85% of trade is carried out by road, the impact is likely to be felt quickly. Eleven tunnels were drilled on two three-lane track, and 390 engineering structures have been completed, including 25 viaducts, to join the borders Tunisian, in the east, and Moroccan, in the west. The equipment program consists of the construction of 42 service stations, 76 rest areas (motels, parking areas, playgrounds, etc.), 57 toll stations, 70 interchanges and 22 ‘gendarmerie’ guard posts, as well as guard points of the Civil Protection. To that, it will be necessary to foresee the maintenance costs because one often forgets that a road is maintained and, according to the international standards, it varies between 84,000 Dollars to 135,000 Dollars/year and per km. This raises the problem of toll costs. Programmed initially at 7 billion Dollars and to be delivered in 2010, the last segment delivered at the beginning of the year 2019 with 12 lanes to connect the east-west motorway to the Highlands highway project with a cost estimated by the government in 2017 at about 13 billion Dollars for 1,216 kilometres, which sets the average completion price of one kilometre of highway at nearly $11 million. To the $13 billion already spent, annual maintenance costs will have to be added. These amounts will, no doubt, be higher than average because of the numerous malfunctions committed during its implementation and the delay in the transition to the paying plan. Motorists will pay for travel on the East-West motorway starting in 2018. According to the project prepared by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the toll on this highway will be calculated on the basis of a tariff of 1.2 Dinar (DZD) per kilometre. Some directors of public works justify the delay in delivery of the East-West motorway by problems related to the compensation of landowners who have been expropriated. To illustrate their comments, some of these directors stated that in the city of Medea, the price per square meter does not exceed DZD450 (average price DZD115 = one Dollar in 2017) and between 700 and DZD1,000 in Bejaia. In the Wilaya of Tizi-Ouzou, the services of the estates offered the expropriated sum of DZD1,200 per square meter and between 700 and DZD900 in Bouira. A large part of the owners refused the proposed price. To return to the cost of the East-West motorway, any reliable project must clearly highlight the hierarchy of objectives, the expected results by sector, scope, performance indicators, indicators of specific objectives and deadlines, and finally the risk hypothesis. However, the people in charge of this project stick vaguely to the technical description without worrying about the costs, which should in principle be the main concern of the government, the minister, and the managers. For international comparisons, variations are depending on whether there is a constraint or not, but it is necessary to avoid risky comparisons and to compare only what is comparable. In Algeria, all the factors are favourable: the labour force is at least 10 times less expensive than in Europe; there is relatively little bad weather; the materials used in large quantities, aggregates (tuff, sand, and gravel) cost practically only their extraction costs and crushing, fuel is 5 to 7 times cheaper, rents, electricity and gas too, the temporary occupations of land that cost fortunes in Europe are not even paid in Algeria when it comes to the public domain; but there are administrative problems and bureaucratic procedures, not to mention the expropriations and demolitions that are sources of extra costs.
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