Transport project funding a ‘challenge’ – official

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The Abu Dhabi Department of Transport (DoT) said on Tuesday that it is still seeking funds to carry out several rail and road projects across the emirate.

TRANSPORT FUNDS: An Abu Dhabi DoT official has said that raising funds for transport projects is a challenge amid the global crisis. (Getty Images)
TRANSPORT FUNDS: An Abu Dhabi DoT official has said that raising funds for transport projects is a challenge amid the global crisis. (Getty Images)

During the MENA Rail conference in Dubai, Dr Abelgader Elshabani from the DoT said securing cash to improve the UAE capital’s transport network was proving difficult.

“One of the challenges for all of us is financing,” Elshabani, project manager of the DoT’s surface transport master plan (STMP), added.

“There are many options and we need to study them in detail. We do not know [how the projects will be financed] so that’s why we are asking our consultants to study this and by 2010, we expect to have an answer.”

The STMP was launched to establish a transport network in Abu Dhabi that is capable of handling three million people by 2030.

Several projects have been approved by the government, including a 130km metro system that will cover various locations across the emirate.

According to the DoT, the metro will link Abu Dhabi Island and its suburbs with upcoming communities such as Al Raha Beach, Yas Islands and Saadiyat Beach.

Each station is expected to have park and ride schemes, taxis, walkways and feeder bus systems.

A railway line is also planned that will connect to the GCC-wide train network. Stretching from Fujairah to the Saudi border, the UAE line will cover 900km.

Meanwhile, the DoT is also planning to develop bus and ferry networks, and introduce more accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists across the emirate.

Elshabani said developing Abu Dhabi’s rail and road networks would hopefully increase the number of public transport users from 2 percent to 32 percent by 2030.

But it remains unclear when these projects will be completed, with the DoT still unsure how to finance them.

Michael Whitehouse, head of railway projects for law firm Wragge & Co, said the current climate was making it difficult for governments to finance transport network projects.

“Great care must be taken on the risk appointment between government and the private sector in designing railway contracts, especially in the current climate where financial institutions may be shy to invest and when private operators are insufficiently robust to provide the performance related service contracted for,” he added.

by Rob Morris Tuesday, 12 May 2009, www.arabianbusiness.com

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