French, Korean consortium to build $1.4 bln Abidjan rail line

ABIDJAN, April 14 Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:46am EDT

ABIDJAN, April 14 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast said it had signed an initial agreement with a consortium including France's Bouygues and South Korea's Hyundai and Dongsan Engineering to build a 1 billion euro ($1.4 billion) urban rail line in Abidjan.

French-speaking West Africa's largest economy has been emerging from a decade-long political crisis that ended in a brief civil war in 2011, and the government is now seeking to improve long neglected infrastructure.

The proposed project would involve construction of a 37 km (23 mile) rail line from Abidjan's international airport in the south of the city, through the city centre to its northern suburbs.

The line would transport an estimated 300,000 passengers a day, alleviating the traffic jams that currently plague the city of around 5 million inhabitants, the government said in a statement.

"The estimated cost of the project is around 1 billion euros," an official with Ivory Coast's transport ministry said, declining to give a timetable for when construction was expected to begin.

DTP Terrassement and Bouygues Travaux Publics, both units of French industrial group Bouygues ; Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary Hyundai Rotem ; and Dongsan signed the agreement with the government on Friday, a press release stated.

Financing for the project is to come from the private partners, according to the statement. The consortium members will hold a minimum 40 percent stake in the rail line's operating company. ($1 = 0.7201 Euros) (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Additional reporting and writing by Joe Bavier; editing by Jane Baird)