RTA plans Dh20b projects spree

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By Abdul Basit  www.zawya.com

Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority, or RTA, is eyeing to spend Dh20 billion in four years for projects, and may also issue bonds to fund future ones, an RTA executive said on Tuesday.

RTAThe RTA’s Chief Executive Officer for Strategic and Corporate Governance, Abdul Mohsin Ibrahimi Younes, said the authority expects “to spend about Dh20 billion in the coming four to five years on our projects.”

Younes didn’t rule out the possibility of the RTA issuing bonds in the future to finance its expansions and projects, but added that “this goes back to the finance department at the Dubai government as we are part of the public sector.”

The RTA, which has spent more than Dh55 billion in the past five years, is not considering to hike Salik toll charges for funding the projects, but will look to create public-private partnerships.

Younes said higher charges for its Salik electronic toll collection system or creating new toll gates would not be an option to raise money for any future developments.

“Salik is not done to fund future projects but to control traffic conditions,” he said, adding that if toll fares were raised, it would be to address changes related to the flow of traffic in the emirate. Last month, the Dubai government said it had hired local and international banks to raise $800 million by securitising road toll receipts and will use the proceeds to fund infrastructure projects in the Gulf emirate.

Last year, the RTA, which also operates the first metro system in the Arab world, received Dh800 million in Salik revenues.

The authority’s revenues from Salik tolls are rising year-on-year as it earned Dh778 million in 2009 and Dh669 million in 2008.The authority is also planning to increase Salik toll gates in the emirate, which are four at the moment.

Younes said the RTA expected its new tram system for Dubai to be completed by 2014. The tram system, valued at Dh3.2 billion, has been 30 per cent completed. The authority also expected the green line of Dubai’s Metro to be completed by September. The 23-kilometre line was originally slated to open in April 2010.

In February, the RTA said it would seek private funding for almost a third of its infrastructure projects over the next five years, in a bid to spread the cost and risk of large projects, according to media reports.

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