Confusion mounts over state's infrastructure plans

23 September 2005
Kuwait's ambitious island development plans were in disarray in mid-September following the dissolution of the Mega Projects Agency (MPA) just five months after its creation. Several key personnel at MPA have been moved on to different positions at the Ministry of Public Works (MPW), and the fates of the multi-billion-dollar Failaka and Bubiyan schemes are now uncertain.

It is not known what prompted the government's decision to dissolve MPA, but a lack of progress on the state's two landmark civil infrastructure schemes appears to have been a factor. Local and international contractors have voiced their criticism of the masterplan for the estimated $3,330 million build-operate-transfer (BOT) tourist development of Failaka, and the terms of reference (TOR) for the first phase of the $1,400 million Bubiyan seaport project.

For the time being, MPW has taken control of the two schemes. The deadline for the design and construction of the seaport's first phase has been extended to the end of February, and MPW has approached consultants to carry out a conceptual study to improve the TOR. On Failaka, it is considered almost certain that the 2 October bid deadline will also be extended to the spring to allow the nine prequalified groups more time to evaluate their options, and for the government to reconsider its position on the project.

MPA's break-up comes just five months after the dissolution of its predecessor the Divided Zone Agreements & Kuwaiti Islands & Mega Projects Development Team (Dizart), which itself was dissolved because of a lack of progress.

While the oil and gas and private real estate sectors have taken off over the last two years, the state's plans for its most ambitious civil infrastructure projects have stalled as a result of slow decision making. A decision has also to be made on how to proceed with the $1,500 million Subiya causeway amid debate over whether the project should be tendered on a design-build or BOT basis (MEED 20:5:05).

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