Bollore Said to Win Contract to Upgrade Ivory Coast-Burkina Rail

Sitarail, a rail company controlled by Bollore SA, won a bid to upgrade the route it operates between the West African nations of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, a company official said.

Rehabilitation of the 1,260 kilometer-long (783-mile) railway will cost as much as 400 million euros ($549 million) and work will start in July, said the official who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public yet. The line links Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, with Kaya, 100 kilometers north of Ouagadougou, the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso.

Bollore, based in Puteaux, France, was in competition with Timis Corp., a closely held company based in London, for the contract to renovate the railway, the official said. A deal will be signed with the governments of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso in June and the project is expected to take three years to complete, he said.

Landlocked Burkina Faso, Africa’s biggest cotton producer, relies on access to Ivory Coast’s ports for both imports of goods and exports of its commodities. Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest cocoa grower and the largest economy of the eight-member West African Economic and Monetary Union.

Djibril Bassolé, Burkina Faso’s foreign minister, didn’t answer four calls made to his mobile-phone yesterday. Samou Diawara, a spokesman for Ivory Coast Transport Minister Gaoussou Toure, declined to comment when reached on his mobile phone.

Sitarail is 67 percent owned by Sofib, a unit of Bollore, while the governments of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso each hold a 15 percent stake.

Bollore in April began works on a 1,000-kilometer railway linking Niamey, Niger’s capital, to Cotonou, Benin’s commercial hub, the first phase of a West African railway project that will link Abidjan to Cotonou.

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