By Elizabeth Broomhall www.arabianbusiness.com
The consortium of firms behind Dubai’s long-awaited Al Sufouh Tram project has begun a work slowdown as cash concerns continue to plague the multibillion-dollar track.
The group, which includes French conglomerate Alstom and Belgium’s Besix, has scaled back the pace of construction on the state-backed tram as discussions over refinancing continue.
“We began construction again in December but there are still some discussions about refinancing the contract underway,” said Philippe Dessoy, general manager of Sixco, a subsidiary of Besix.
“We are waiting for these to be finalised before we can start building at full speed again.”
The consortium won the contract for the 14km tram in 2008, but suspended construction in the wake of the global financial crisis as Dubai government slowed payment to trade creditors.
Construction resumed in December 2010, Dessoy said.
“So far we have started the viaduct along Sheikh Zayed Road, a JBR station mock up and we’d done some of the utilities in the marina,” he said.
Once completed, Al Sufouh Tram will run from Dubai Marina to the Mall of the Emirates. The line will include 19 stations and a fleet of 25 trains able to shuttle 5,000 people an hour.
The project is a key focus for Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority – which is funding the track – as it will serve hundreds of thousands of passengers in the new Dubai area.
The tram was initially scheduled for completed in April of this year.
Abdul Younes, the RTA’s CEO for strategy and corporate governance, said the tram is now slated for completion in 2014.
“Last year there was a delay to the project due to financial issues, but the project started again a few months ago and is expected to be completed in 2014.”
Younes last week said the RTA would seek private funding for almost a third of Dubai’s large infrastructure projects over the next five years in a bid to thin out the cost to the emirate.
The agency is also planning to privatise its water taxi services.