MÉTRO LÉGER : Les Indiens d’Afcons Ltd débarquent

L’exercice d’évaluation des deux offres soumises par ces contracteurs étrangers devra être bouclé demain

Le projet de Light Rail Transit System (Métro léger), qui a fait l’objet de la Private Notice Question (PNQ) du leader de l’opposition, Paul Bérenger, mardi dernier, franchira demain une nouvelle étape dans les procédures avant l’adjudication de ce méga projet, dont le coût se monte à Rs 22,2 milliards. À ce jour, suite à l’élimination de China State Construction Engineering Co. Ltd vu qu’il figure sur la liste rouge de la Banque mondiale, un seul groupe, soit les Indiens d’Afcons Infrastructure Ltd, est encore en lice pour décrocher ce contrat majeur. En principe, le début des travaux sur le chantier, s’échelonnant sur au moins quatre ans, devrait intervenir après le 31 octobre prochain.
La fin de l'exercice d'évaluation des offres étant annoncée pour demain, il faudra maintenant s'attendre à voir les représentants d'Afcons Infrastructure Ltd, qui a construit le métro de New-Delhi, débarquer à Maurice dans les prochaines semaines pour des consultations avec les responsables du comité de pilotage du projet métro léger, dont Serge Petit. Pour les besoins de cet exercice de Request for Proposals, les Indiens ont soumis deux options, en l'occurrence une base proposalet une proposition alternative. Ce comité d’évaluation comprend des experts de Singapore Cooperation Enterprise et des spécialistes mauriciens.
Cette novelle étape de consultations avec Afcons devrait durer au moins deux mois vu les caractéristiques techniques du projet à être déterminées. Mais l’aspect le plus important de ces discussions concerne le montage financier à être adopté pour ce projet sous la formule de Turnkey Project.
Les propositions formulées par le soumissionnaire indien devront faire l’objet d’analyses de la part des techniciens des ministères des Finances et des Infrastructures publiques. D’autres formules de financement du projet de métro léger sont envisagées avantque la décision finale ne soit entérinée. En principe, le Procurement Plan, qui a été approuvé, prévoit que« the financial close is scheduled for 31 October 2014 meaning that thereafter the contractor would mobilise and works would start ». C’est ce qu’aindiqué le vice-Premier ministre et ministre des Infrastructures publiques, Anil Bachoo, à l’Assemblée nationale mardi dernier.
De son côté, le leader de l’opposition a fait un plaidoyer pour que toute décision sur le projet de métro léger soit reportée après les prochaines élections générales. “We have been informed that there is only one firm left and yet, supposedly the decision will be taken this very month. Can I appeal to government to postpone a decision until after the next general elections ? Because we started with 11 (firms), we are left with one. We are taking about Rs 20 billion. Therefore, I can, through the vice-Prime Minister, appeal to government to postpone a decision for the required number of months”, a-t-il ajouté.
Anil Bachoo, qui avait précédemment confirmé que le ticket du métro léger serait le même que le barème des tarifs de bus sur le corridor Curepipe/Port-Louis, a souligné que cette demande ne peut être entretenue car « all procedures have been fulfilled »

Commentaires

Do we really need this? Is it an ego trip Singapore or indian style? A dedicated bus road which can also be used by emergency services (ambulance, fire engines, police etc) is a better proposition in my opinion and cheaper. This metro leger will never make a profit. It will never be able to compete with buses especially when the novelty effect has worn out. It will be a permanent millstone around the taxpayers neck. We did have a railway system several decades ago. It was replaced by a road. This metro leger will suffer the same fate! We are struggling to maintain a fleet of buses. God only knows how this metro leger will be maintained. Imagine the horror scenario of its brakes failing just after leaving Curepipe….One is not surprised the only one bidder left and it is an indian company. One cannot let one's colony down!

It is simply not acceptable to go ahead spending 22 billions of tax payers money (without counting potential additional risk of govt financial guarantee under PPP) with such opacity around this project and no consultation with users, stakeholders eg local authorities, bus operators, general public. Especially on the eve of General elections. No one knows the actual project scope and plan, there is no transparency on how the project cost escalated from Rs15Bn to Rs22bn, no information on value for money, no information on long term financial risks (especially in relation to the PPP procurement method envisaged, e.g. Potential further financial govt guarantee on whole life costs), no information on how the project fits with a wider transport strategy. Is there one?

The Govt pays the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise to scope the project and lead the bidding process but no one knows the scope and from a long list of 11 bidders, only one firm remains from India..The Leader of the Opposition asked his PNQ on this issue but was given the guarantee by Minister Bachoo that 'all is fine' and that the project should in fact be accelerated! And after having spent so many billions on roads everywhere, the Minister now believes the metro leger is the long term solution while all the roads he built, with taxpayers money, were only a short term fix! Does the govt even have a transport strategy?

Given all these uncertainties explained above, the project should be halted and there should be a due diligence of the overall project, the bidding process and the minister's infrastructure and transport strategy. The country needs an integrated multimodal transport strategy (buses, rail, roads, car use policy, cycling routes etc) that takes on board the land planning, car use etc. Now that the Govt has built so many roads everywhere, we need to relook at demand planning and look at the Light rail project in that integrated context with long term costs versus benefits.

Le métro leger est un must pour le pays. Le pays doit se moderniser avec un système de transport moderne et efficace. Le métro va créer un feel Good factor dans le pays. Ça va générer un dynamisme économique , beaucoup d'emplois vont être créer pendant et après la construction et aussi moins trafic sur l'autoroute M.1.les mauriciens attendent ce projet depuis 30 ans.cest plus l'heure de cose coze , c'est l'heure de commencer les travaux. Les mauriciens vont être fière de leur pays.

Yes I agree that the light rail project could bring lots of benefits to the country. But it is NOT normal to spend rs22bn of tax payers money without demonstrating value for money and no information on long term operational cost etc, especially that the bidding process appeared to be flawed and we are left with only ONE bidder out of 11 bidders. Furthermore the minister stated that the fare will be the same as bus fare, which raises questions around govt guarantee to the operator (under PPP procurement model contracts / agreements are made for over 25 to 30 years. Do you trust the current govt so much with a long term contract that is not transparent? This is about public sector governance gone wrong to the extreme. So, yes I agree, the light rail system will bring positive benefits to the country, but before going ahead, there are complex issues to be resolved around financing, long term operational costs, no demonstration of value for money, lack of transparent project governance, flawed bidding process and other long term risks. So the question remains: given the series of scandals around the implementation of mega-projects, is the country prepared to go ahead with the light rail project without having resolved these issues?