CAIRO: Phase two of Cairo’s new metro line was officially inaugurated Monday at a signing ceremony marking the award of contracts for the new phase of the project.
The French government, which financed the construction of Egypt’s first metro line, has been actively involved in the new metro line as well, supplying $280 million in loans to the French companies involved in the project.
The signing was attended by visiting French Minister of Foreign Trade Anne-Marie Idrac and Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, as well as the Ministers of Economic Development, International Cooperation and Transport.
Commenting on the current French-Egyptian collaboration, Francoise Meley, head of the French Embassy’s economic department, observed that partnership on this new phase is a continuation of a long history of cooperation.
“This cooperation started more than 30 years ago when the first line was launched, and since the project’s beginning, France has committed ? 1 billion in concessional loans to the metro project, she told Daily News Egypt.
Speaking at a joint press conference Sunday with Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Idrac confirmed the continuance of French support for the metro in spite of the challenges presented by the international financial crisis.
The governorates of Cairo, Sixth of October and Giza will be served by the new metro system, which will consist of four lines extending to all major areas of the city.
A $140 million contract for the civil and electromechanical work on phase two was awarded to a consortium of firms headed by Orascom Construction Industries (OCI).
OCI will work together with Vinci, Arab Contractors, Bouygues, Colas Rail of France, Alstom and the Thales Group to execute the project. A separate $24 million contract was awarded to OCI and Eurovia Travaux Ferroviares for the railway construction component of phase two.
“We are very proud of the long lasting partnership that has developed over the years between French companies of international reputation including Vinci, Bouygues, Alstom, the Thales Group, Coals Rail, Eurovia Travaux Ferroviaires and Systra, and their Egyptian partners Arab Contractors and Orascom Construction, said Meley.
In a joint press conference with minister Idrac after the ceremony, Transport Minister Mansour announced that investments in phase two of the project totaled LE 3.3 billion.
For the French as well, the opportunity to serve Cairo’s citizens is a driving factor behind their support of the metro project.
“We are very proud to be the partner of Egypt in the development of the Cairo metro network, which is directly benefitting Cairo’s citizens, by making their everyday lives easier and also by reducing air pollution, Meley emphasized.
Line 3, phase two of which is currently under construction, will eventually extend from Imbaba to Heliopolis and will serve Cairo Airport. The capacity of the metro system is expected to expand from 2.5 million daily commuters to 4.5 million upon completion of line 3.
Phase one construction covered the area from Attaba to Abbassiya, with three new stations including Al-Geish, Abdo Basha and Al-Abbassiya. Phase two will cover the construction of four new stations: Cairo Fairgrounds, the Stadium, Koliyat Al-Banat, and Al-Ahram Street, to be officially opened in October 2012.
The new stations will have state of the art security technology, a contactless fare collection system, and some stops will have commercial outlets.
The master plan for Cairo’s metro system, based on a transportation survey completed in 1999, calls for the construction of six lines by the year 2022 to serve the city’s most densely populated areas.
Currently, Cairo has Africa’s only full-fledged metro system.