May 18, 2020 / 11:45 PM / 9 days ago

Mexican government eyes builder ICA for 'Mayan Train' contract

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s government will likely directly grant the contract for the fourth phase of its “Mayan Train” project to Mexican construction company ICA (ICA.MX) without a bidding process, the head of the tourism authority was quoted as saying on Monday.

The rail project is a top priority of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who hopes it will be a major generator of jobs in Mexico’s poorer south.

Rogelio Jimenez, head of the National Fund for Tourism Promotion (Fonatur), told Mexican newspaper El Financiero that ICA already holds the concession for a highway running along the planned train line from Izamal in Yucatan state to Cancun in Quintana Roo state.

“It’s the simplest way, since it has the concession... It has to be directly awarded, taking them out and putting in another company is more complicated,” he said.

A Fonatur spokesman said further details would be announced in the coming days.

Contracts for the first, second and third phases of the train were granted through public bidding contests that attracted dozens of companies. Winners included firms controlled by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim.

The 1,470-km (913-mile) rail line is designed to connect tourist hot spots from Chiapas state to the Yucatan Peninsula along the Caribbean coast, including the popular Maya ruins of Palenque and Chichen Itza to the beach resort Cancun.

ICA had also been tapped to help build a $13 billion Mexico City airport, a flagship project of former President Enrique Pena Nieto that was scrapped by his successor Lopez Obrador, who claimed it was too costly and tainted by corruption.

Reporting by Raul Cortes Fernandez, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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