Baghdad metro plans derailed



Iraq will need to end the political stalemate before major transport schemes can move forward.

Baghdad has been trying to build a metro scheme since the late 1970s.

Saddam Hussein may have gone, the worst of the insurgency may be over, but political instability and security issues continue to hold back large-scale development plans in Baghdad, and that includes the metro.

Iraqi voters went to the polls on 7 March, but returned a hung parliament. Six months on, there is still no government. The political deadlock is damaging the security situation, say analysts.

For international contractors, instability makes things difficult on the ground.

To make matters worse, the Washington-based World Bank says that Iraq does not have a clear strategy for its railway and metro plans, even though Baghdad Municipality maintains that is will fund the metro project directly.

If Baghdad’s metro is to move ahead, two things have to happen. First, a stable government will have to take the reins of power in Baghdad. Second, Iraq will have to develop a coherent framework to attract financiers and construction companies and give them the level of comfort they need before they participate in the scheme.

Progress on the metro scheme is slow, but it is moving in the right direction. If the technical and feasibility studies proceed after Ramadan, then it will be one step closer to attracting international companies it desperately needs.