Iraq eyes 8 foreign firms for $3bln metro project

* Shortlists WS Atkins, Versar, 6 others for Baghdad deal

* Project expected to help ease taffic jams

By Aseel Kami

BAGHDAD, May 26 (BestGrowthStock) – Iraq has shortlisted eight
foreign firms for the construction of a $3 billion metro rail
through the capital Baghdad as it seeks to rebuild
infrastructure damaged by decades of war and underinvestment.

Baghdad’s municipality media office said on Wednesday the
companies — which include British engineering consultancy firm
WS Atkins (ATKW.L: ) and U.S. project management company Versar
(VSR.A: ) — would have to present their bids to the project
consultants, French engineering group Systra.

The other companies shortlisted for the contract are a
consortium of British project managers Halcrow Group, German
consulting firm Dorsch and Finnish engineering and consulting
group Poyry (POY1V.HE: ); British firms Mott MacDonald and Arup;
Italy’s Torno and IECMB; and U.S. firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.
“The metro rail will help to solve a big part of the problem
in Baghdad’s streets, which suffer from huge traffic jams due to
the continuous rise in the number of cars that have entered Iraq
(since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion),” the office said in a
statement.

Most commuters in Baghdad are dependent on taxis and buses
for transport, and it often takes hours to travel short
distances due to traffic congestion and long queues at security
checkpoints which are dotted all over the city.

The underground project, which was initially drafted in the
1980s but put on hold due to years of war and international
sanctions, will be the first of its kind in the war-shattered
country if it comes to fruition.

Violence in Iraq has dropped sharply in the last two years,
giving government the chance to invite foreign firms to invest
in the country to help rebuild its deteriorated infrastructure.

The first line of the metro, which will be 21 km (13 miles)
long and have 21 stations, will start in al-Mesbah in central
Baghdad and then split into two minor lines. One of the lines
will end in Weshash in western Baghdad and the second in the
southwestern Bayaa area.

The metro’s second major line, expected to be around 18 km
(11.2 miles) long and have 20 stations, will start in the Sadr
City district in northeastern Baghdad, pass through central
Baghdad, and end in the northern Adhamiya area.

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(Editing by Serena Chaudhry and Hans Peters)

Iraq eyes 8 foreign firms for $3bln metro project