Saudi Arabia’s sprawling and congested capital is in a race against time to complete its $22.5bn metro system within four years, a senior official said yesterday.
Abdullah Allohaidan told AFP in an interview that the rail and bus development—whose construction is changing the face of Riyadh—is the largest such project under way in the Middle East “and I think in the whole world”.
Construction began a year ago but has accelerated in the last few weeks, with road closures, digging equipment and hard-hatted workers taking over the city’s business core, to the frustration of drivers facing detours and lane-closures.
“I think the biggest challenge we are facing is the duration of the project,” said Allohaidan, assistant to the metro director.
Plans call for construction to be completed by the end of 2018.
“Usually the duration for those projects is much longer,” he said in front of colour-coded maps showing the metro’s six lines that will cover 176km, supported by a bus network of 1,150km.
But with the population of Riyadh projected to reach 8.2mn by 2030, up from the current 5.7mn, “definitely we need a transportation system”, he said.
“Ninety percent of the people here are using cars.” More info