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Image Credit: iStock – Rainer Lesniewski

On July 19, 2023, the Panamanian Ministry of Public Works (MOP) opened bids for a public-private partnership (PPP) project to rehabilitate, improve, and maintain the Pan-American Highway East running along 246.2 km from Las Garzas de Pacora (Panamá) to Yaviza (Darién). This is the first PPP project to reach this stage in Panama since the country began implementing its PPP program in 2019.

The project involves a two-lane road with an initial traffic volume of 10,000 vehicles per day and a projected volume of 17,000 vehicles per day by 2040. The initial investment is estimated at US$286.1 million, with operation and maintenance costs of US$184.1 million and periodic maintenance costs of US$142.1 million.

The Government of Panama, with support from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the project financier, is reaffirming its commitment to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3.6 and 11.2, as well as the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, which aims to reduce road deaths and injuries by 50%.

The concession contract requires the concessionaire to conduct a road safety assessment to ensure that the road has a rating of at least three stars under the iRAP methodology at the start of the operation and maintenance stage. This is fully aligned with Global Road Safety Performance Targets 3 and 4.

The inclusion of road safety standards in PPP contracts is a significant step towards reducing road deaths and injuries in Panama. By requiring concessionaires to meet high safety standards, the government is helping to ensure that the Pan-American Highway East is a safe and reliable road for all users.

By including road safety standards in PPP contracts, the Government of Panama is helping to make the country’s roads safer for everyone.

According to iRAP Safety Insights Explorer, achieving greater than 75 percent of travel on 3-star or better roads in Panama by 2030 could save an estimated 42,288 fatalities and serious injuries over the 20 year life of road treatments with an economic benefit of USD$11.3 billion to the country’s economy – $23 for every $1 spent.

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