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Wednesday , October 21 2020

‘Remove all obstacles to railway line project … within one month’

Budget crisis said delayed project

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 9: The Council of Ministers has presented an ultimatum ordering government agencies concerned with the northern and southern regional road and the railway line project to take the necessary measures to remove all obstacles to the railway line project within one month, reports Al-Qabas daily. The council decided to form a committee chaired by the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, and with membership of six bodies (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Kuwait Municipality, Public Authority for Roads and Land Transport, Public Authority for Partnership Projects, and Investment Promotion Authority) to undertake the supervision of the railway project.

The committee will follow up relevant authorities, provide feasibility statement on the project’s implementation, and submit a periodic report every three months on the latest developments in this regard.

Official correspondences revealed plan to contract with an international consultant to resolve the conflict of the 10 parties stalled over a period of two years due to failure to adopt a budget for the project in fiscal year 2018/2019 allocation. The letters indicated that correspondence in this regard continued between the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Finance since 2018 until February 2020 but no response has been received to date.

A memorandum sent by the Council of Ministers to a number of ministries revealed that Cabinet was informed of the non-commitment of Public Authority for Roads and Land Transport and the Public and Private Sectors Partnership Projects Authority to schedule, as regards measures to be taken to implement the northern and southern regional road project, and the railway line. The memorandum added the Council of Ministers, in its meeting No. 47/2020 held on 20/7/2020, informed the Cabinet of the recommendation contained in the minutes of meeting No. 24/2020 with the Public Services Committee held on 15/7/2020 on the above subject.

The committee reviewed the correspondence that took place between the Public Authority for Roads and Land Transport and the relevant authorities, including the procedures and practical steps taken to implement the decisions issued by the Council of Ministers, specifically its Resolution No. 429 that refers to above, and to determine all obstacles to the implementation of the railway network while setting procedures and mechanisms to overcome them.

The council also reviewed letter No. 190 from the Minister of Public Works and Minister of State for Housing Affairs dated 9/6/2020, and attached to it, the memorandum of the Public Authority for Roads and Land Transport, regarding the coordination measures taken by various government agencies in relation to the obstacles and types of conflicts.

The first phase of the railway network project includes the route of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries linking the Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port in the State of Kuwait at 154 km, noting 265 kilometers will be accomplished in the first phase of the route passing through the passenger terminal in Kuwait City.

The authority also coordinated directly with the state authorities to resolve conflicts on the railway track (the first phase) by clarifying the type of conflicts and demands of concerned authorities to determine procedures to be taken by the Public Authority for Roads and Land Transport by;

First: Fixing the railway track with the Kuwait Municipality. The installation of the first phase of the railway track was completed at a width of 200 meters with obstacles shown on the survey plan in Kuwait Municipality’s letter dated 1/4/2018.

Second: Conflicts on the northern and southern regional road and the railway line. The following is a detailed report that includes; 1. An upto- date inventory of all railroad confl icts, arranged according to the level of difficulty of those confl icts. This is for 18 concerned parties, based on direct coordination with concerned authorities. 2. The requirements of the competent authorities on confl icts. 3. Measures taken by the Public Authority for Roads and Land Transport and the proposed solution in this regard. 4.

A diagram showing some of the conflicts at each side. 5. Correspondence exchanged with concerned authorities. From this report, it is clear that there are conflicts of ten entities that need to be dealt with by signing a global consultant to prepare the initial studies and designs for the railway track, including the bridges, tunnels and crossings for all roads and corridors intercepting the route, and with the development of engineering solutions and appropriate technical specifications to protect or migrate the conflicts.

In order to ensure security, concerned authorities allow military crossings on the railway at predetermined points, in addition to vehicle and pedestrian crossings, and camel traffic crossings. It also entails studying all service lines and public facilities, including water, sanitation, rainwater drainage, communications networks, fiber-optic cables, water and electricity lines- especially high pressure pneumatic lines and related towers, while developing and approving solutions to maintain services with specifications, standards and requirements of the relevant authorities.

Coordination and several meetings were held with representatives of the Public and Private Sectors Partnership Projects Authority, the last of which was the meeting held on 14/11/2019 in the presence of representatives of the Ministry of Finance.

The tasks assigned to each of the authorities concerned with the execution of the railway line project (first phase) were reaffirmed. The Public and Private Sectors Partnership Projects Authority disclosed that “in order for the project to be proposed according to the partnership system, the path must be free of conflicts to complete deficiencies in the feasibility study.

Public Authority for Roads and Land Transport has also stated the need to contract with a consultant office to prepare a preliminary design for the Concept Design project through which solutions are needed to deal with major conflicts and the technical specifications for civil works and the operation of the train system, stations, control and monitoring centers, and also complete the necessary studies related to the environmental, traffic and volume cargo, passenger, and geotechnical and hydrological study of the project.

Coordination was made with the Ministry of Finance regarding approval to include the project under fiscal year 2018/2019 budget, so that the Authority could proceed with the subsequent procedures toward offering the study and preliminary design agreement for the project over a period of 24 months. Exchanged correspondences in this regard continued from the date of 14/8/2018, during which several meetings were held the most recent of which was 14/11/2019.

As indicated by the Ministry of Finance, in light of its letter to the Authority on 15/1/2019, no decision was issued by the Council of Ministers assigning the Public Authority for Roads and Land Transport to carry out the preliminary study and design work, and therefore approval is impossible on the project.

In light of coordination with the Ministry of Finance, the Authority was contacted on 19/2/2020 to conclude the approval of the required budget, and until this day, no response has been received. Coordination meeting was held with the representatives of Kuwait Municipality and the representatives of Public Authority for Roads and Land Transport on 21/1/2020 under the implementation of Cabinet’s decision.

Report prepared by the Public Authority for Roads and Land Transport in coordination with all agencies relevant to the railway line project was presented and discussed (The first stage). The report entailed the completion of procedures for the decisions of the Municipal Council to concerned authorities in the matter of assignment/deduction/displacement/ allocation.

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