July 6, 2015 / 8:10 PM / 2 years ago

REFILE-Ivory Coast signs concession deal for Abidjan urban rail line

(Refiles to include dropped word in paragraph 9)

ABIDJAN, July 6 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast signed a concession agreement on Monday with France’s Bouygues and Keolis and South Korean firms Hyundai Rotem and Dongsan Engineering to build and operate an urban rail line in the commercial capital Abidjan, the government said.

Ivory Coast, French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy, is experiencing an economic revival as it emerges from a decade-long political crisis.

Abidjan, a lagoon-side regional commercial hub, is luring back investors, but the city of 5 million has only limited mass transit and suffers from congestion problems.

“The Abidjan Metro line 1 will be a public passenger transportation service that will compliment the existing transportation services to satisfy ... strong demand,” Ivory Coast’s transportation minister Gaoussou Toure said.

The build-operate-transfer agreement will see the construction of a 37-km (23 mile) rail line passing through the city centre from Abidjan’s northern suburbs to the international airport in the south of the city.

DTP Terrassement and Bouygues Travaux Publics, both units of French industrial group Bouygues, will hold a 33 percent stake in the consortium, as will Hyundai Rotem .

Keolis, 70 percent owned by French state rail operator SNCF, will hold 25 percent, with the remaining 9 percent belonging to Dongsan Engineering.

Preparatory work on the project will cost around $40 million. A Transportation Ministry official had previously estimated the overall price tag at around $1 billion.

Construction is expected to last 5-1/2 years. The first phase of the rail line is expected to be completed in 2019 and the entire project operational a year later.

Reporting by Joe Bavier and Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Alison Williams

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