A Chinese contractor, Sinohydro, is now commencing a major highway project in Bolivia. The firm is starting work on the El Sillar road project, which is worth US$426 million and is expected to take nearly three years to complete. Much of the funding for the project, 85%, will be supplied by China’s Eximbank. The remaining 15% of the financing required is being supplied by Bolivia itself. Running between Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, the 470km route of NR 4 includes some difficult sections, particularly for the stretch between Paracti and Villa Tunari, with its sharp curves. In the past, road construction works in the area have suffered from landslides, with the loss of lives and equipment.
Constructing the highway will present major challenges due to the tough terrain and the route will feature two tunnels as well as four bridges. The upgrading work will include widening the route from a single lane in either direction at present, to having two lanes in either direction. Improving the road will increase its capacity as well as safety on the road, providing economic benefits to the region.