Posted by: Barrak Al-Babtain | October 24, 2010

Kuwait Metro: Progress

Kuwait signed an $8 million contract with Ernst and Young to provide “consultancy services” for the Metro project. It’s weird, because E&Y are an auditor, as far as I know, and they’re not really the first name one thinks of for master-planning expertise and designing mega-infrastructure projects. Anyway, the press release for the signing ceremony, which was held last Thursday, had some interesting bits of information:

KUWAIT, Oct 21 (KUNA) — Kuwait signed on Thursday a KD 2.280 million contract with a renowned international company for consultancy services for the planned state mega project , the metro.

The signing ceremony, involving the national technical agency for studying development projects and initiatives and Ernst and Young Company, held at the Finance Ministry headquarters, was attended by Minister Mustafa Al-Shimali, Minister of Communications and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Dr. Mohammad Al-Busairi, and Minister of State of Municipal Affairs Dr. Fahdel Safar.

Speaking on sidelines of the ceremony, Dr. Safar said the metro project had been approved after extensive consultations with international agencies, adding that the service would be linked up with the buses’ transports, covering dense residential regions and minimizing usage of personal vehicles. The air-conditioned metro will run on “green energy,” he added.

For his part, Al-Busairi revealed that the cabinet legal affairs committee has recently discussed establishment of a public transportation authority to supervise establishment of a single network, combining the metro and bus services. Adding, he stressed the necessity of ensuring integration of this sector’s services. He also indicated that an aspired project would also incorporate the railway network, the telephone and post services. Adel Al-Roumi, the head of the technical agency, said the metro project would be a grand development accomplishment.

The project is designed to link up the southern and northern regions of the country and resolve the traffic congestion problem that worsens during the winter season. – Kuna

Having the bus service and Metro be under one authority is a great idea. That way they can easily coordinate with each other towards a single vision for public transportation. It seems they’re going to follow Dubai’s lead in having hard to access but dense areas be funneled by buses, which would collect all the people and basically deliver them to the nearest Metro station. That worries me a bit because it seems to indicate that the Metro would just follow the highways, as with Dubai, and not really provide a catalyst for urban development and walkability. I hope i’m wrong. There’s an advantage to it following the highways, obviously (it’s easier and cheaper), but that kind of misses the point and the unique opportunities that a rapid transit system can offer.


Responses

  1. Yes Ernst & Young are mainly auditors but they also provide consultancy services

    They wouldn’t have been my first choice though… I would have gone with someone like Accenture

    But then again what do I know?😉

  2. Yeah, it’s a little odd. Anyway, i’m just glad things are moving forward. I’m thinking that the first train will start moving in 6 years. October 10th 2016. That’s my bet.

  3. Very strange indeed… I’ve never affiliated E & Y (nor Accenture) with urban development… They’ve both always been accounting firms to me… Which from a fiscal standpoint makes sense (I guess) but might bode something else from an urban, environmental, logistic and architectural standpoint…

    Are we talking about ‘value engineering’ the project even before a proper proposal has been put together..?!

    • That’s what I thought, Tom. Seemed like putting the cart before the horse. I don’t know, maybe they already have the design of thing ready and are just looking for financial feasibility studies or whatever else needs to be done?

      I really have no idea, but 8 million dollars seems a lot for this, and it probably includes designing the whole project, or at least outsourcing the design to an engineering firm at least, or maybe setting up a consortium to handle the entire first phase of the design… It’s a weird sort of design capitulation by the government.

  4. If this is their choice of consultant, it’s a sign of the wrong person in the right place… What happened to the many well known engineering and urban development consultants?

    Maybe this is a mistake on the release? Perhaps E&Y are just looking at numbers…

    Yallah… something is better than nothing as said above.

  5. As usual with KUNA press releases, there’s always a LOT of missing information. Ernst & Young are leading a team that includes Atkins -on board as technical adviser. Atkins has been working for around a year on research locally. They were affiliated with Gulf Consult–not sure if they’re still a part of the team or not though.

    Anyway, more information here: http://pppinframiddleeast.blogspot.com/2010/08/advisors-chosen-for-kuwait-ppp-metro.html

    The article states “the group will also evaluate the design of the metro, which was carried out by Kuwait Overland Transport Union and Kuwait Municipality.”

    It also says “A private developer will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the metro network. ” My question is, f a private developer is doing this, then what is this money funding exactly?

  6. Thanks a lot Aisha! That clears up a lot of the confusion.

    “Ernst&Young will now act as the transaction adviser, helping the PTB structure, procure and negotiate the deal. This includes validating previous feasibility studies, carrying out due diligence on the project and overseeing the tender process.”

    That seems like they’ve been given the lead on the project and basically told to clean up the mess. Right? They’re leading a consortium that includes Atkins and Ashurst , a legal advisory.

    Aisha, was Atkins involved in that old design, that was done by the Spanish consultancy, Ineco, or was their research independent of that? I remember that original design with the Overland Union from a couple of years ago, maybe three or four, so it’s pretty old.

    I hope the research Atkins has been doing will fix the major flaws in that design.

  7. Hmmmm…

    I’m currently sitting by a huuge fountain at the La Fontaine cultural Center in Bahrain, from where one can see the, if I remember correctly, Atkins designed World Trade Center, which consists of two large triangles between which a set of stacked windmills were supposed to provide a considerable components of the towers’ energy… The building(s) were completed about two years ago and, as of yet, the windmills haven’t completed a single revolution… Sounds a bit like ‘green-washing’ to be and doesn’t necessarily instill too much confidence in their commitment to projects here in the Gulf…


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