Mitsubishi Heavy wins Macau light-rail project

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 December, 2010, 12:00am

After repeated delays, the Macau government yesterday officially awarded a controversial 4.69 billion pataca contract for its showcase light-rail project to Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Macau's Transportation Infrastructure Office, known as GIT, has been vetting bids since April from three competing consortiums seeking to supply trains and related systems for the project, which has a total budget of 7.5 billion patacas.

Mitsubishi beat two rival bids by a partnership between Canada's Bombardier and China Road and Bridge Corporation (at 4.57 billion patacas) and a partnership between Germany's Siemens and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation or CCECC (at 6.28 billion patacas).

According to the official government tender, the winning bid should have been announced by last July with rail services operational by August 2014.

However, the tender process dragged on and was tinged with controversy after Macau legislator Jose Coutinho made repeated allegations that the GIT had pre-selected Mitsubishi as the winner in July.

The GIT repeatedly rejected the allegations, calling them 'untrue'.

In an August statement posted on its website, GIT said: 'The tender evaluation is handled by an independent committee consisting of members from different departments. In addition, the tender evaluation process is in accordance with relevant legal procedures and guidelines provided by the Commission Against Corruption.'

First proposed in 2003, the latest version of Macau's plans for a light-rail system unveiled last year calls for a budget of 7.5 billion patacas, up 79 per cent from previous estimates. The GIT plans the first phase of the light-rail transit system to begin service in 2014 with a capacity to move 8,000 passengers per hour per direction.

The route encompasses 21 stations, beginning at the Zhuhai border in the north, curving around the Lisboa casino hotel, crossing the Sai Van Bridge to Taipa and Cotai and ending at Macau International Airport.

But the tender has also been complicated by maintenance, repair and reinforcement issues relating to the Sai Van Bridge, which Mitsubishi, as the winning bidder, will now be required to address.

The 560 million pataca bridge was designed to carry vehicles on its upper deck and a rail line and emergency vehicle lanes on its lower deck.

But it later emerged that bridge contractor Chon Tit (Macau) Investment and Development, a unit of state-owned CCECC, won the tender to build the bridge after its general manager Chen Dongsheng paid 14 million patacas to former transport and public works secretary Ao Man-long.

First-phase budget

Macau's contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is worth almost, in patacas: 4.7b