France's Alstom signs MOU for Baghdad metro


By Aseel Kami

* 25 km line to cost about $600 mln

* To be financed by the French govt

* Iraq needs to rebuild its battered infrastructure

BAGHDAD, Jan 21 (Reuters) – French engineering group Alstom (ALSO.PA) has signed an outline agreement with Iraq to build a metro line above Baghdad’s streets, an official said.

Shaker al-Zamili, the head of Baghdad Investment Commission, said on Thursday Iraqi officials signed a memorandum of understanding with Alstom in France last week.

An Alstom spokeswoman in Paris confirmed the agreement was signed last Saturday, allowing exclusive talks for the building of 25 km (15 miles) of high-level track.

The metro would be partly funded by a French government loan covering 50 to 60 percent of the cost, Zamili said, with the remainder financed through a low-interest loan from a French government-run bank to be repaid over 20 years.

Zamili said the line, which would take up to two years to complete, would ease traffic congestion and would link the northern Baghdad districts of Shaab, Adhamiya, Kadhimiya and Hurriya with the central Alawi zone.

In June, Iraq’s southern city of Najaf awarded TransGlobim International (Globim), a privately-owned Canadian consortium, a $600 million contract to build the country’s first monorail. [ID:nANS649050]

Railways are among a number of large-scale infrastructure projects discussed by Iraqi officials since the fall of Saddam Hussein, including a plan for a multi-billion dollar Baghdad metro, none of which has been built yet.

Iraq’s roads, railways, ports and power plants have been badly decayed by years of war, economic sanctions and underinvestment.

(Additional by Matthias Blamont in Paris; Editing by Rania El Gamal and David Cowell)