By Paul Francis X. Fernandes www.arabtimesonline.com
KUWAIT CITY, Nov 22: The British Business Forum (BBF), the voice of British business people in Kuwait held its November members’ meeting, at the British Embassy Wednesday, to a full audience of business professionals from the local community. The meeting focused on the ‘Region’s Renewed Interest in Metro Projects’.
Paul McKay, the BBF Chairman opened the meeting by stating the region is seeing renewed interest in transport projects with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Etihad Rail UAE and Kuwait among the countries building rail networks with contractors competing intensely for work.
He went on to say, until recently, the only major rail systems operating in the GCC were a 60-year-old freight and passenger link between Riyadh and Dammam and Dubai’s metro.
The launch in September of full operations on Saudi Railway Company’s 1,400 km minerals railway comes as the rail boom moves into full swing. The GCC states, being most underserved by rail transport infrastructure, are catching up with other sub-regions and account for some $250 billion worth of heavy and light railway, tram and metro projects. According to analysts, 24 percent of the regional rail projects are in execution phase and 76 percent planned in the coming years, he added.
McKay said the analysts predict a major surge in regional rail project awards in 2013. The main contract awards will be led by the Jeddah Metro, Kuwait Metro, Saudi Landbridge, Abu Dhabi Metro, Riyadh Metro and the Baghdad railway, he added.
The key drivers being improvement of logistics infrastructure in line with economic diversification and population growth; which is estimated to increase in Kuwait to well in excess of 5 million by the year 2030, he stressed.
The BBF chairman added, Kuwait requires its own efficient and rapid urban transport system to address traffic congestion. There are two distinct benefits to Kuwait’s agglomeration — people will be able to move to more productive jobs in the city and productivity will increase as in other cities with metros, improved transport allows and promotes productivity and GDP growth.
McKay then introduced the guest speaker of the evening, Will Myles, Managing Director for Atkins in Kuwait. Atkins is recognized as one of the world’s leading engineering and design consultancies, and was the designer of the Dubai Metro.
Atkins is in a consortium led by Ernst & Young and also including Ashurst, which is the transaction advisor to Kuwait’s Partnership Technical Bureau (PTB) on the Kuwait City Metropolitan Rapid Transit System (KMRT). More info