The Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) plans to launch a tender for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the under-construction Riyadh Metro within months.

Alwalid Alekrish, director of Construction Development Projects and project director of the Riyadh Metro at the ADA, said the O&M contract is likely to be awarded in 2017, according to London-based news agency Reuters.

Alekrish also said that the $23bn project is on track to hit its 2019 completion date, citing that “the metro is being paid for directly from ring-fenced government funds and as such there is no specific debt or borrowings.” This implies that the metro project has been and will be largely unaffected by the recent clamp down on government spending in light of lower oil prices.

The executive said there are no plans for the project to be scaled back or delayed, and that any modifications will likely be limited to minor details such as the interior design, although these, too, have yet to be decided.

Several metro projects in the kingdom are awaiting award or under procurement and design including the Mecca Metro, Jeddah metro and light rail transit, and the Medina metro.

These unawarded projects, particularly the Mecca Metro whose preferred bidder for its four packages are understood to have already been identified, are expected to undergo greater scrutiny and have to be signed off by the Royal Court, prior to award.