Saudi Arabia’s National Centre for Privatisation (NCP) has received bids for the technical, legal and financial services advisory roles for the public transport systems in Mecca, Jeddah, Medina and Dammam, which will now be procured using a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

The bids were initially expected on 1 October but the submission date was moved to 12 October in response to prequalified bidders’ request for extension.

MEED understands the NCP expects to appoint one firm for each of the three roles by the end October.

The roles sought are expected to treat each of the four public transport projects individually.

The contract duration is for up to six years with 1 November set as commencement date.

NCP said it will hire three other consultants namely commercial, environmental and insurance advisers for the project.

MEED understands the Ministry of Economy and Planning commissioned a study in 2016 with respect to the review and optimisation of the planned public transport systems across the four cities.

Prior to this, the four schemes were developed independently by the concerned authorities at the municipal level.

According to a source familiar with the transaction, the kingdom is likely to procure one of the four metro schemes first, and will then proceed with the next one depending on the outcome of the first project.

Of the four public transport schemes, the metro component of the Mecca Public Transport Programme was at the most advanced procurement stage.

The Mecca Metro was initially planned as a PPP with UK-based consultancy EY and law firm Ashurst and the US’ Parsons Brinckerhoff appointed as transaction advisers for the project in March 2011. A feasibility study for the metro was prepared by a joint venture of France’s Systra and the US-based Aecom, who were appointed as consultants in April 2012. However, the plans to develop the Mecca Metro on a PPP basis were dropped after the government decided to fund the scheme directly in 2013.

Engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts worth an estimated $8bn for the civil works, rolling stock and systems of the metro’s lines B and C were expected to be awarded in late 2015 but were put on hold.