Saudi Arabia on Tuesday launched a tender process to build a new metro system in the capital Riyadh in an effort to ease congestion on the city’s gridlocked roads.
The Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) invited international consortia to prequalify for the project, which it wants to be finished in four years.
“ADA invites global consortia specialized in the production and supply of rolling stock, control and telecommunications systems as well as metro tunneling, civil, mechanical and electrical works to prequalify for Riyadh metro project,” it said in a statement.
Metro projects typically cost billions of dollars to build.
The prequalification notice came with a June 20 deadline.
In April, the Saudi Cabinet approved plans to develop a new public transport network in the city within four years that would include both a metro and a new fleet of buses.
The project will be overseen by a committee headed by Prince Sattam, who was appointed Riyadh Governor in November and is chairman of ADA, and also including the finance and transport ministers.
About four-fifths of the network would be underground, including a line running under al-Olaya Street, al-Watan daily wrote on Tuesday quoting “informed sources”.
Saudi Arabia has only limited public transport facilities and Riyadh suffers grinding congestion for much of the day and into late evenings.
In December the government announced a 690 billion riyal ($184 billion) budget for 2012, as it seeks to boost infrastructure, education and health.