Surbana inks Kinshasa masterplan deal

Surbana inks Kinshasa masterplan deal

Singapore's Surbana International Consultants has trumped global rivals by winning a major contract to master plan the sprawling African province of Kinshasa, which is also capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The challenging job is valued at $15 million by industry experts, making it the firm's largest master-planning contract.

Surbana signed the deal yesterday after emerging top in an international public tender process.

Kinshasa is the third-largest urban area in Africa after Cairo and Lagos, with a population of around 10 million people in an area of 9,600 sq km - more than 13 times that of Singapore. The city is fraught with socio-economic problems like poverty and unemployment after decades of war. There has also been violence in the capital over the country's presidential elections next year.

It will be Surbana's ninth project in Africa. Chief executive Pang Yee Ean said: "Our track record of delivering quality and workable master plans which enable cities to grow economically and socially is paying dividends as more and more African countries approach us to help them with their urbanisation plans."

The project will pose several challenges for the firm, including the need to understand Kinshasa's culture and capture the aspirations of the people, said Mr Pang.

A team of six will be stationed in Kinshasa, which is a 16-hour flight from Singapore. It will take 14 months to complete planning and another six to assist the Kinshasa provincial government in managing its urban development.

The Surbana team will draw on Singapore's pragmatic approach to city planning to develop the province's infrastructure, organising its roads, housing and transport system. The plan also has to cater to the growing population, which is expected to hit 20 million by 2050.

Mr Andre Kimbuta, governor of Kinshasa, told The Straits Times yesterday that the last time Kinshasa had a master plan was in 1968, which was conceived for a population of 500,000.

Mr Kimbuta noted the potential of the nation's wealth of natural resources like copper and energy, adding that Kinshasa needs to be developed so businesses could invest with confidence.

"For the master plan to be effective, there has to be development," he said. "Then there will be growth, creation of jobs and improvement of infrastructure."

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs, said at the signing: "This rapid development has created many opportunities in Africa's infrastructure and planning sector, which Singapore companies specialising in urban solutions, housing and infrastructure development should explore."

Surbana worked with Greater Kingdom, an investment and management advisory firm, during the tender process to obtain information pertaining to Kinshasa.

rtan@sph.com.sg

CHALLENGING JOB

- A team of six will be stationed in Kinshasa, which is a 16-hour flight from Singapore. It will take 14 months to complete planning and another six to assist the Kinshasa provincial government in managing its urban development.

- The Surbana team will draw on Singapore's pragmatic approach to city planning to develop the province's infrastructure, organising its roads, housing and transport system. The plan has to cater to the growing population, which is expected to hit 20 million by 2050.


This article was first published on May 14, 2015.
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