Japan consortium shocks with the lowest Metro bid

The name of the consortium that will build the Dubai Metro is to be revealed in a few days

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By  Eudore Chand Published  March 5, 2005

Confusion, incredulity and excitement seemed to be the order of the day at the opening of the financial bids for the Dubai Metro project. The cause of the pandemonium was the bid by the Japanese-led consortium of Obayashi, Mitsubishi and Yapi Merkesi (Turkey). Its members said they could build the first phase of the Dubai Metro for approximately US $1.71 billion (AED6285 million). This figure was in sharp variance to the approximately AED10 billion bid by Metro One consortium, whose members include Bombardier (Canada), Odebrecht (Brazil), Arabtec (UAE), Parsons (USA), Guris (Turkey) and Ghella (Italy). Another surprise was in the similarity of bids of Dubai Star and Salsabeel consortia. Dubai Star offered to build the phase one of Dubai Metro for a sum of about AED8854 million, while Salsabil offered to do if for around AED8922 million. Members of Dubai Star Consortium include Belfinger Berger (Germany), Alstom (France), Taisei Corporation (Japan), Orascom (Egypt) and Besix and Habtoor Engineering Enterprises of the UAE. Salsabeel counts Germany’s Siemens and Dywidag and Saudi Bin Laden and China’s Citic, as members. “There must be something wrong,” was the common phrase heard at Dubai Municipality headquarters, when the Mitsubishi-led bid was announced. When approached by Construction Week, its members declined to comment. Before, during and after the opening of the bids, municipality director general, Qassim Sultan, and chairman of the Dubai Metro project Nasser Saeed, were both at pain to emphasise that the financial bid was not the sole determinant factor in the selection of the main contractor for the Dubai Municipality promoted project. “Today is just the opening of the financial bids. The overall bids will need to be checked by the technical committees, consultants and municipality board members, before the winner is announced,” Sultan stressed several times. “Please do not panic,” added Nasser Saeed. “This is a preliminary. We will now go in for detailed studies, which will make the selection of the winner clearer.” Sultan expected the naming of the main contractor for the Dubai Metro project to be announced in a few days time. The Dubai Municipality has asked the competing consortia to submit bids in a staggered manner. The last bids received were for above ground works and the deadline for these was 31st January, when a consortium led by Vinci of France dropped out. Some 70% of the rail network runs above ground. Bids for the MEP works and underground were received earlier. The promoters are looking at a date of 5th May 2005 to commence the project, and to complete the first phase by 9th September 2009. “I want to see the project completed according to the set programme. We said we would announce the winner in March 2005 and we have completed the bidding process by the end of February. We were thinking of starting works in May 2005 and up to this time, we are on target,” said the municipality director general. The bidders were hesitant to comment. “We can’t say too much. But between the two (high and low bids), we seem to have it right,” said Dr. Jochen Keysberg, the chairman of the steering committee for the Dubai Star. The light rail project was originally estimated to require an investment of US $3.8 billion (AED14 billion). The promoter Dubai Municipality, along with consultant Systra, managed to shave off a couple of billion dirhams to bring the two-phase estimate down to around AED12 billion. The first phase calls for the construction of a 35-km stretch and associated facilities. The line will run from the Al Rashidya Depot to near the American University of Dubai. This phase is to be completed by the middle of 2009. Phase two will be the addition of 32-km of rail line. Part of the addition will the extension of the first line from American University of Dubai to Jebel Ali Port, as well as the creation of a second line that will run from Dubai Airport Free Zone across to the Dubai Healthcare City area. Completion of phase two is scheduled for May 2012. An across trip of 51-km on the Red Line is likely to take 66 minutes at a speed of 45 kmph. A full trip on the Green Line is estimated to take 29 minutes at an average speed of 33 kmph. The Dubai municipality hopes to move 23 000 passengers per hour per direction, but allows for a more rapid movement of 27 500 passengers per hour per direction. Projections suggest that the Dubai Metro will have a passenger boarding rate of 760 000 by 2010, rising to as much as 1.95 million by the year 2020. There will be two major stations at the expanded Dubai International Airport. As of now, they are part of the airport expansion programme. However, they are likely be included in the overall Metro project. Habtoor Engineering Enterprises, part of the Dubai Star consortium, is leading the consortium that is carrying out the fit-out for the new Terminal 3 and Concourse 2 at Dubai airport. The reason for the Metro is the rapidly growing population of Dubai, which is putting a major strain on the roads right across the emirate. A study for the Metro has shown that the emirate’s resident population is growing by 6% annually and is projected to rise from the current 1 million to 3.5 million by 2020. The car population is growing at double the rate.

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