Kuwait’s Communications Ministry has invited international consultants to express interest in a design and supervision role for the planned Kuwait Metro project.

The ministry has invited firms to express interest in the contract, and is preparing to issue tender documents, according to sources in Kuwait.

The Communications Ministry has taken over as client of the metro project, which was previously planned to be developed as a public-private partnership (PPP) project under the supervision of the Partnerships Technical Bureau (PTB).  The team of the UK’s EY (formerly Ernst & Young), Ashurst and Atkins was advising the PTB on the development of the project, but their role has now ended.

MEED reported in early 2013 that the metro was one of four major projects the Communications Ministry had put on hold while it ordered a review on whether the schemes should be brought back under government ownership. The ministry is now preparing to tender the design and supervision role directly.

The PTB had received more than 60 expressions of interest (EoI) for the rolling stock package in June 2012, the first package it was planning to tender on the first phase of the metro. The proposed 50-60 kilometre first phase was planned to link Salmiya to the airport and contain 29 stations. The PTB had planned to develop the first phase of the project through five PPP contracts.

The PTB was aiming to develop the metro in five phases up to 2035, with the total length of the rail link reaching 170km when completed.

The metro was one of the flagship projects planned in Kuwait’s 2010-14 National Development Plan. It is hoped the rail scheme can make swifter progress under the ministry’s auspices than under the PTB. After two decades of underperformance, Kuwait’s projects sector has been boosted by the progress of a couple of long-awaited key development projects in recent months.

The signing of the final project agreements for the country’s first independent water and power project (IWPP), Al-Zour North, in December was followed by the February  award of three deals worth a combined $12bn for the long-delayed Clean Fuels Project (CFP) that will upgrade the country’s refineries.