HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani and HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti with other dignitaries at the inauguration of an exhibition held as part of the UITP conference. PICTURE: Jayan Orma.

By Ramesh Mathew
Staff Reporter

Qatar has set an ambitious five-year plan starting from next year to develop its public transport sector in a big way.

The plan would see at least 2000 public transport buses on the roads by 2020, said HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti while speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the 2nd UITP MENA Public Transport for Large Events & Showcase and 2nd UITP Taxi Conference at the Qatar National Convention Centre on Tuesday.

The minister said the country was preparing well to meet the travel requirements of not only the large number of visitors expected for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but was also committed to put in place a vastly developed public transport infrastructure for residents.

While pointing it out that the country's authorities are committed to building about 2500 kilometres of Expressways by 2030, the minister said the Doha Metro network, for which work is going on at a  fast pace, will see the laying of 84 kilometres of railway lines and have 38 stations by 2019.

Separately, the Lusail Light Rail would have a length of 35 kilometres with 32 stations, he said.

Al-Sulaiti, who is currently serving as the chairman of the UITP Middle East, felt the plan outlay of more than QR157bn in the next eight years for building the road and rail networks would transform Qatar's public transport sector.

The minister said that even after the World Cup eight years from now, work on extending the rail network would continue and by 2030 Qatar would have 233 kilometres of railway lines, covering 96 stations.

While recalling the ongoing works to expand the Expressway network, Al-Sulaiti said Qatar would have about 160 bridges, mainly interchanges across its major roads in the next decade.

The minister also lauded the ongoing work for building the QR27bn New Doha Port on the southern part of the country. The port completion, he said, would go a long way in enhancing Qatar's maritime connectivity.

In his opening address, Prime Minister and Interior Minister HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani said the hosting of an event of this magnitude, where several acclaimed public transport experts and policy makers were in attendance, would help the region pursue its ambitious efforts to build the massive GCC rail network, covering all six Gulf states.

Secretary General of the Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy Hassan al-Thawadi said there is a great necessity of continued co-operation between each stakeholder in a country for the successful execution of any major sport extravaganza. The hosting of such a major event as UITP meeting, said al-Thawadi, would make the local and regional agencies and institutions understand the country's genuine needs for achieving success in their area of operations while implementing a major project.

UITP Secretary General Alain Flausch and Director General of EPFL Franco Tufa also spoke.

Later HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani also opened an exhibition being held as part of the three-day event. A number of regional and local institutions, especially those catering to the public transport sector, are taking part.

Minister of Finance HE Ali Sharif al-Emadi and Minister of Municipality and Urban Planning HE Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Khalifa bin Abdulazeez al-Thani and several other senior Qatari officials were  present.

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