(DENNIS B MALLARI)
Construction of the first phase of the vast Dubai Metro project is facing an overspend of up to 25 per cent. Unforeseen costs have triggered the budget-breach, although the massive build remains on schedule, said Abdul Majid Al Khaja, chief executive of the Rail Agency of the Roads and Transport Authority.
Speaking exclusively to Emirates Business 24|7 he said once complete, the city would begin to offer a fully integrated public transport system. “A huge Metro tram network will not only provide cheap transportation solutions, but will also increase employment levels and also provide opportunities for investors.
“We want to encourage the participation of the private sector because we feel there is a lot to learn from their expertise,” said Al Khaja. “Due to miscellaneous costs incurred during the construction process, we believe there will be a 15-25 per cent surplus expenditure beyond the current budget for the Dubai Metro by 2010. We are progressing on schedule with almost 20,000 activities every day. The public will start to have a real feel of the Metro next year when recruitment starts.”
He said he wanted to work closely with the private sector to ensure as many people as possible ditch their cars in favour of the Metro, buses and trams. Currently there are plans for more than 270km of tram lines around Dubai, with work on the first scheme in Al Sufouh due to begin in the new year.
Earlier this year, the RTA signed a Dh3bn five-year deal with Serco, a UK-based international company specialising in rail management, to maintain and operate red and blue lines. The Metro is entering the 21st of 49 months of construction. So far, Dh5.8bn has been spent from a total budget of Dh15.5bn. The red line, the longest of the two current lines, is almost half complete.
More than 18 per cent of the work on the 22.5km green line scheduled to be completed in March 2010 has been finalised. The Al Sufouh tram will also be operated and maintained by a private company yet to be appointed. Al Khaja said operations and maintenance for all future Metro lines would be privatised. With Dubai’s population set to hit five million in 2020, the Rail Agency will have a total of 318kms of Metro lines and 270km of tram lines.
He also announced a fifth and six Metro line would be added. The two extra lines will complement the under-construction 52km-long red line and the green line. Construction of the purple and blue lines will be finished by 2012 and 2014, respectively.
15.5 - The cost in billions of dirhams of the first two stages of the Dubai Metro project
21 - Months of construction so far. In total, it will take 49 months to build.
52.1 - The length in kilometres of the Metro’s red line – the longest of the lines announced so far
270km - The length of tram lines set to be built in Dubai in the forthcoming year.
5 - The population in millions of Dubai by 2020