Traveling the distance: Egypt upgrades transport sector

Ahmed Morsy , Thursday 3 Dec 2020

Al-Ahram Weekly reports on plans to overhaul the transport sector by 2024

Upgrading transport
The sixth metro line is one of 33 transport projects in the works. REUTERS

Egypt’s Minister of Transport Kamel Al-Wazir has urged local and international private sector companies to invest in 33 projects the ministry is currently planning. 

“We count on the private sector to play its role in development and are always in touch with potential local and international investors,” Al-Wazir said on Monday during a webinar organised by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Egypt to discuss developments and investment opportunities in the transport sector.

Al-Wazir presented 33 projects to American and Egyptian investors attending the webinar, calling on them to invest in such projects, be it on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis or through the public private partnership (PPP) system.

Eight maritime transport projects with an estimated total cost of $2.7 billion were among the 33 projects. They include constructing two multi-purpose terminals in Safaga and Nuweiba at a cost of $750 million and $500 million respectively. A new $500 million berth is also being planned for Port Tawfik.

Five projects on the list, worth an estimated $17.4 billion, involve the National Authority for Tunnels (NAT). Seven other railway projects also cost $6.95 billion.

On Sunday, Al-Wazir met with senior officials from the US-based Bechtel Corporation. The officials were keen to sign a memorandum of understanding for the completion of the sixth metro line (Maadi-Khsous) — one of the 33 planned projects. Its 30 kilometres have been estimated to cost $5 billion.

Bechtel is now expected to submit a written offer. If it is agreed implementation will begin at once, Al-Wazir said on Monday.

A week earlier, during the Third Smart Transportation and Logistics Fair and Forum for the Middle East and Africa (TransMEA 2020), held on the sidelines of the annual Cairo Information and Communication Technology Conference (Cairo ICT 2020), the Suez Canal Economic Zone and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt signed an agreement to set up the National Egyptian for Railroad Industries Company (NERIC).

NERIC will specialise in producing and refurbishing locomotives, and is expected to attract $10 billion in investments over the next few years according to Egypt’s Planning Minister Hala Al-Said.

Agreements in the transport sector signed during the four-days of TransMEA 2020 include a training and skills transfer agreement between Huawei and the n Ministry’s Trans IT company.

Al-Wazir was quoted in media reports as saying the aim of the agreement is to train the Trans IT team and transfer expertise so the company can be involved in projects that Huawei implements inside and outside Egypt.

Another agreement, between the National Railways Authority and the French manufacturer Alstom, involves the construction of a railway signalling control centre at the Technical Institute for Rail Technology.

In an interview with Al-Ahram daily published on Friday, French Transport Minister Jean Baptiste said Egypt and France were deepening their economic relations through cooperation in several sectors, including transport.

“During my current visit to Egypt participation in a number of projects involving railways and the metro were discussed, including electrification of the signals on the Tanta-Mansoura-Damietta railway line and cooperation over electromechanics on the express train project from Ain Al- Sokhna to Alamein,” said Baptiste.

Aviation projects were also discussed during the visit, as was possible French participation in the development of Alexandria port and the New Administrative Capital.

Baptiste said an agreement had already been signed to finance the development and rehabilitation of Cairo’s first metro line. “The agreement is funded by the French Development Agency to the tune of 50 million euros. There is also a contract for the management, operation and maintenance of the third line of the metro with a French company as part of the development and rehabilitation plan for metro lines,” he said.

Last week, a consortium of leading engineering contractor Orascom Construction PLC and the Japanese Mitsubishi Corporation signed a contract worth $800 million to execute construction work on the first phase of line four of the Cairo metro.

The first phase of the line will extend for 19km, ending in the Pyramids area in Giza, and will serve 16 stations.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 December, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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