Dubai says metro on schedule, contracts being paid

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dubai’s transit authority said Thursday work on its partially completed metro system is on schedule and contractors are being paid, seeking to quiet questions about the fate of one of the most visible big-ticket projects in this cash-strapped emirate.

The statement comes in response to media reports saying the project’s Japanese-led consortium plans to delay work on the Arabian Peninsula’s first rapid transit line because of a dispute over late payments.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, or RTA, said construction work is moving ahead “according to the planned schedule.” It did not provide details.

“RTA also reiterates its contractual commitments to the flow of payments in accordance with the progress of work made in the project,” the transit operator said in an emailed statement in response to questions.

Dubai opened about a third of the initial line’s stations in September, touting the sleek metro system as a vital piece of infrastructure that could revitalize a city that has been hit hard by the global financial crisis.

One additional station in front of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, opened with the skyscraper this week. The RTA has said the remaining stations on the 32-mile (52-kilometer) red line are due to open by February. A second line is slated for completion in June.

The metro’s first two lines are expected to cost at least $7.6 billion, about 80 percent more than originally planned.

Japan’s top business daily Nikkei reported Thursday that the consortium building the metro planned to stop construction because of delayed payments from the Dubai government. The newspaper also said the project’s completion would be pushed back to the end of the year. It did not say how it got the information.

Japan’s Obayashi Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Mitsubishi Corp. and Kajima Corp., and Turkey’s Yapi Merkezi are the main contractors on the project.

A Mitsubishi Corp. official, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said the company was unable to comment because the consortium is “in negotiations” with the customer. The Nikkei information “is not based on information we released,” he said.

The other Japanese firms could not be reached for comment. Yapi Merkezi had no comment.


Associated Press Writers Tomoko A. Hosaka in Tokyo and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.