Construction works on the Tiznit-Dakhla highway, connecting central Morocco to the southern provinces, have reached a completion rate of 38%.
A senior official at the Ministry of Transport announced the figure during an interview with Morocco’s state media on Wednesday, February 17.
The major infrastructure project concerns the enlargement of National Road N01, between Tiznit and Laayoune, and the establishment of a new road between Laayoune and Dakhla.
Worth a MAD 10 billion ($1.1 billion) investment, the Tiznit-Dakhla highway will extend over a distance of 1,055 kilometers. The deadline for its completion is the end of 2021, but the current completion rate might put the project behind schedule.
The completion rate of the different highway sections varies between 17% and 67%. The northern part of the highway, between Tiznit and Laayoune, has reached a completion rate of 41%. Meanwhile, the southern part, from Laayoune to Dakhla, is still lagging behind.
In January 2020, Minister of Transport Abdelkader Amara affirmed that the project is running smoothly and that construction works are on track to respect their deadline, set for the end of 2021.
Amara stressed that his department is “very firm” with the companies working on the project regarding deadlines.
“We can understand certain constraints linked to water and electricity connections, but if companies do not respect the deadlines and show large delays, we will see their contracts terminated,” he promised last year.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, was among the constraints that Amara did not predict. Based on the recently-announced completion rate, the pandemic appears to have significantly delayed the project.
King Mohammed VI first announced the Tiznit-Dakhla highway project in 2015, estimating its completion time at six years.
As one of Morocco’s flagship development projects in its southern provinces, the highway represents a lever for the economic and social development of the region.
When completed, the highway will reduce the time and cost of transport between the north and the south of Morocco. It will also improve traffic flow, comfort, and road safety through the Sahara.