Industry Trend Analysis - Quick View: Bridge Collapse Creates Uncertainty - FEB 2018

The Latest: On January 15, a section of a partially built suspension bridge in Guayabetal, Cundinamarca collapsed, resulting in the death of nine construction workers and injuring eight others, according to local media sources.

Implications: The collapse of the bridge represents a major setback for the Bogota-Villavicencio highway widening project, one of the largest and most strategically important infrastructure projects currently being developed in Colombia. Construction of the bridge, which had been just several months away from completion at the time of its collapse, will be delayed for months and the structural integrity of the remaining standing section bridge will certainly have to be reviewed before work can recommence.

The concessionaire of the project, Concesionaria Vial de los Andes S.A.S. is a subsidiary Corficolombiana -- one of the most active infrastructure developers in Colombia and a key actor in the country's landmark 4G road concessions programme. As such, this creates the potential for the disaster to have a negative impact on other projects in the country where the firm is involved, which could see a slowdown in project activity. Illustrating the potential impact of such events, the collapse of a crane in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 2015 (which resulted in over 100 deaths and hundreds of injuries) led the Saudi government to suspend Saudi Binladen Group, one of the largest construction firms in the country, from being awarded public contracts for a number of months until the investigation of the incident was completed ( s ee 'Downside Materialises, Construction Growth Revised - Q1 2016 ' , 12 October 2015). The bridge collapse will also have wider implications for Colombia's construction industry, likely leading to a review of safety and engineering standards and oversight in the country as a whole and potentially resulting in the review of other ongoing infrastructure projects in the country. Similar incidents globally have served as a catalyst for legislation that boosts regulatory oversight and tightens safety standards. Though such legislation may offer further safety benefits, we note that it also has the potential to increase the costs associated with delivering infrastructure projects in Colombia.

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