• Ministry awaits decision from PPP body on tendering timeline
  • Metro scheme has undergone several transitions in five years

Kuwait remains strongly committed to its national metro and railroad projects, and both schemes are in the Ministry of Communications’ top agenda going forward, a source familiar with the scheme has said.

The ministry is waiting for the Kuwait Authority for Private Partnerships (KAPP) to begin the tendering process for both schemes. KAPP, however, has yet to confirm details as far as the procurement timeline for both projects is concerned.

The metro in particular was one of the flagship schemes planned in Kuwait’s 2010-14 National Development Plan. But the project has undergone several false starts since its conception as a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative in 2010.

The original plan was to establish a special-purpose vehicle tentatively named Kuwait Metro Company. Half of the company’s shareholding was to be floated on an initial public offering (IPO), 40 per cent to be auctioned off to the private sector, and the remaining 10 per cent was to stay with the government.

The then Partnerships Technical Bureau (PTB)  began prequalifying contractors for the project in October 2010, following the appointment of a consultancy consortium led by the UK’s EY in August that year. At the time, the PTB received prequalification documents from some 29 firms.

However, the communications ministry eventually took over the PTB as a client, and the contract with EY along with the UK’s Ashurst and Atkins, which were the advisers for the project, also ended.

The scheme was put on hold in early 2013, with the ministry citing it was reviewing the option of bringing back the project under government ownership. It was hoped at the time that the rail scheme could make swifter progress under the ministry’s auspices than under the PTB, MEED had reported.

In April 2014, the ministry invited expressions of interest (EoI) for the scheme’s design and supervision, which set the stage for the formal tendering process to start all over again. The prequalification process began in October for the project management and preliminary design. A five-year completion timeline was also set, with the project to be directly funded by the government.

In early 2015, a new PPP law and the establishment of KAPP, which replaced the PTB, saw both the metro and railroad projects being shifted back to a PPP model, requiring a new round yet again of EoIs and prequalifications.

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