Six groups of Israeli and foreign companies have prequalified for Israel’s first public-private-partnership project for the construction and operation of Highway 16, designed to provide another western entrance to Jerusalem. Israel’s Inter Ministerial Tenders committee said it expects to select the winner for the $400-million project by the end of the summer.

“The timetable calls for the project [to ease] the traffic at the entrance to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and the coastal plain to be operational within five years,” said Yariv Nechama, who heads up the committee. The bidders in the final round are Shikun & Binui, along with Africa Israel Investments; Olizki and China Harbor’s Pan-Mediterranean Engineering Co. Ltd. subsidiary; Israel-based Electra Construction; Israel-based Minrav Engineering and Building and the China Civil Engineering Corp.; Shafir Engineering and Italy’s Pizzaroti; and Israeli firms Ashtrom Group Ltd. and Oron Group, with Spain’s Orbas Subterranes.

The selected company will plan, finance, construct and operate the highway over a 20- to 30-year period. The four-lane, 4.7-kilometer-long road includes twin tunnels, comprising 2.8 km of the route.

Israel’s Shikun & Binui earlier this month reported weaker 2015 results, largely due to the company's troubles in its largest foreign market, Nigeria. Economic pressures in the west African country had a direct impact on Solel Boneh International, the company’s wholly owned subsidiary that still is owed $56 million by the Nigerian government for infrastructure projects. The company has a $1.7-billion backlog of projects in Nigeria.

Shikun & Binui Chairman Moshe Lahmani said he was hopeful the new Nigerian government's approval of the state budget earlier this month would lead to a resumption of stalled infrastructure projects. Company revenue fell by 22%, to $1.33 billion, and net profit was down 4%, to $114.8 million.