The National Government is implementing an ambitious toll road concession plan through the National Road Institute "Instituto Nacional de Vías (INVIAS)", looking for collaboration from the private sector for the development of the road infrastructure sector in Colombia in line with the opening of economic barriers in the country. This plan is based on Law 80/93 (Colombian Procurement Statute), which includes concessions as an authorized procurement mechanism. It is also based on Law 105/93, which contemplates concessions as a specific application within the transportation sector. Toll road concessions include road rehabilitation, construction, maintenance and operation activities.

Based on the aforementioned legal framework, toll road concessions began in Colombia in the so-called First Generation Toll Road Concessions, with projects such as the Vía al Llano, and the roads Buga - La Paila, Cartagena - Barranquilla, and Santafe de Bogota - Briceno, among others.

In 1995 INVIAS began a series of studies in order to solve the problems which faced the First Generation of Toll Road Concessions ; mainly problems dealing with land acquisition, permitting, project financing and an inadequate allocation of risks between the government and the concessionaire. Said studies ended with the bidding process and subsequent award of the El Vino - Tobia Grande - Puerto Salgar Concession, by the end of 1997, considered as the most important road development project for the country, and the first road under the Second Generation of Toll Road Concessions in Colombia.

INVIAS has planned several projects as a development of this Second Generation of Toll Road Concessions, such as the Malla Vial del Valle, consisting of 110 kilometers de construction, 293 of reconstruction and 403 of operation and maintenance, with an estimated investment of US$420 million, which is in its bidding stage. Others, include the Malla Vial del Caribe (a total of 597 kilometers and an estimated investment of more than US$142.8 million), the Malla Vial de Santander (250 kilometers with an estimated investment of $107 millions), the Corredor de la Cordillera Central and the Santafe de Bogota - Buenaventura road. As described, toll road concessions will be a very important component in project finance in Colombia during the following years.

Prepared by Adriana Agudelo from Gomez Pinzon & Asociados, Bogota, Colombia.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide but specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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