Tunisia - A funding agreement worth 55 million US dollars (approximately 173 million dinars) was signed, Thursday, in Tunis, between the Tunisian government and the Saudi Fund for Development, so as to help fund a project on renovating the railway network intended for the transport of phosphate.

This project, whose total cost amounts to 518 million dinars, is run by the Tunisian National Railway Company (SNCFT). It seeks to renovate part of the railway lines (190 km) in an effort to promote the transport of larger quantities of phosphate.

More particularly, the project aims to strengthen the capacities of SNCFT in the transport of produced and processed phosphate, improve companies' financial situation operating in the sector as well as contribute to the recovery of the national economy.

The project also aims to reduce the maintenance costs of the railway network, a large part of which has been in operation over 40 years, encourage the operation of new wagons intended for the transport of phosphate and whose capacity amounts to 3,200 tonnes as well as contributing to regional development and direct and indirect job creation.

Other goals include preserving the environment, save energy, reduce traffic on the road network and improve the trade balance by guaranteeing the transport of larger quantities of phosphate and derivatives.

The first part of this project focuses on the phosphate transport rail network located in southern Tunisia, particularly in the governorates of Sfax, Gafsa and Gabès. The completion of this first part will take over 2 years.

The funding agreement was signed by Minister of Economy and Planning, Feryel Ouerghi and Executive President of the Saudi Fund for Development, Sultan Bin Abdelrahmane El-Mourchid.

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