Gabon rolls out new integrated road and highway improvement programme

As the cornerstone of the Emerging Gabon Strategic Plan, the national road network has been substantially upgraded since 2009, with the paving and improvement of approximately 650 km of roads across the country. Numerous road projects are under way, expected to deliver an additional 750 km of paved roads in 2016, and have the intended benefit of increasing economic activity in remote areas.

Libreville

In recent years, the authorities have worked to improve Libreville’s road network and reinforce its connections with the interior of the country by widening the National Road 1 into a dual carriageway running between Libreville and Ntoum. An upgrade of the 28-km stretch between Point Kilométrique 12 (PK12) and Ntoum is currently under way and is being carried out by the Spanish company CEDEX at a cost of €280m. Another section of this road – between Point Kilométrique 5 and PK12 – has been awarded to the French construction company Colas Gabon, with the goal of reducing traffic jams in and out of the capital. Estimated at a total cost of CFA45bn (€67.5m), the project is technically challenging because of the rugged terrain and a need to deploy related water, electricity and telecoms infrastructure worth a total investment of €10m. To assist in the financing of the project, the authorities secured a CFA75.6bn (€113.4m) loan from the Bank of Central African States in January 2016.

The authorities are currently working on a 93-km long road between Port-Gentil and Omboué in an effort to open up Port-Gentil’s sea-locked territory and bolster economic development in the region. Construction is being carried out by the Chinese construction company China Road and  Bridge Corporation in collaboration with Germany’s infrastructure development firm Gauff Engineering. Financed through a €160m loan from the Export–Import Bank of China, the project is expected to be completed in 2017. It requires the construction of three large-scale bridges – each approximately four-km long – crossing over the Ogooué River and Nkomo Lagoon. In the second phase, the construction of a 270-km stretch between Omboué/Mandji and Yombi will ultimately connect Port-Gentil to Libreville via the National Road 1. Although no timeline has yet been decided for the start of this second section, the authorities estimate that the project will take five years to complete and will have a total cost of approximately €380m.

East

In an attempt to improve connectivity in the mineral-rich Bélinga region, in 2012 the government launched a project to pave a 98-km road between Ovan and Makokou in the province of Ogooué-Ivindo, in order to link to the train station in Booué. Costing €120m, the scheme is designed to ease the transportation of minerals out of the region to the Port of Owendo. In 2012 China First Highway Engineering Company began the construction, which is scheduled to be completed by the end 2017.

In 2013 the Chinese group Sinohydro was awarded construction of the road between Bakoumba and Moanda in the south-east of Gabon after having completed a 98-km road section between Leyou-Lastourville in four years. Initially entrusted to SOCOBA 20 years ago, the project has been kept on hold for years, with only 30 km out of 75 km built.

South-West

In an effort to open up Gabon’s southern provinces and provide a boost to local economic development, the government has put in motion several road improvement projects in the south-west. The Italian firm Guideo Sentulo Céricom is completing a 75-km road section between Mouila and Ndendé as well as a 50-km stretch between Ndendé and Tchibanga. The company has already completed a CFA24bn (€36m) bridge on Banyo river near Mayumba. The road between Tchibanga and Mayumba is expected to be ready by early 2017, with the final CFA32bn ($48m) 53-km section between Loubomo and Mougarara being partly funded by Shell Gabon.

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The Report: Gabon 2016

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