The Council of Ministers yesterday decided to implement a massive public transport system for major cities in the Kingdom to streamline vehicular traffic, ease public transport  and boost development.
The project will be first implemented in Riyadh. The transport system in the capital, including buses and trains, will be completed in four years. The decision comes in the wake of the Kingdom’s move to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
The Cabinet, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, set up a high-level committee under the chairmanship of Riyadh governor to supervise the project’s implementation.
“The committee can make use of the expertise of specialized international companies and its chairman has to present progress reports of work every three months,” Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja said after the Cabinet meeting.
The Cabinet also agreed to implement public transport projects in other major cities after completing studies on network designs, Khoja said, adding that the government would bear the cost of projects. The Cabinet instructed the traffic department as well as the municipal and transport ministries to take necessary measures to encourage people to use public transport systems and reduce the use of private vehicles.
“The new system will not only reduce traffic congestion and air pollution but also ensure judicious utilization of petrol,” the Cabinet said and urged coordination among the traffic department and municipal and transport ministries for town and transport planning.
Transport Minister Jabara Al-Seraisry thanked King Abdullah and Crown Prince Naif for approving the public transport system, saying it would reduce overcrowding in cities and ensure smooth traffic flow.
Khoja said the Cabinet also reviewed the latest regional and international developments and reiterated the Kingdom’s support for every effort that would end the bloodbath in Syria. The Cabinet backed the decision taken by the GCC ministerial council recently regarding Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the UAE island of Abu Musa, saying any aggression on a member country’s sovereignty will be considered an aggression on the GCC as a whole.
Defense Minister Prince Salman, meanwhile, briefed the ministers on the outcome of his recent visits to the UK and the US while the Cabinet underscored the historic relations between Saudi Arabia and the two Western countries. “These relations have advanced in various fields, benefiting joint interests as well as peace, security and stability in the region,” he added.
The Cabinet also referred to the resolutions taken by the OIC information ministers conference in Gabon to confront stereotypes of Islam and Muslims. It stressed the Kingdom’s strong economic performance in terms of growth and moderate inflation rate. “We’ll continue our efforts to stabilize the international oil market,” the Cabinet meeting assured the world.
Khoja said the Cabinet endorsed the Arab agreement for combating corruption. The accord calls for taking measures to prevent corruption and strengthening cooperation among Arab countries for the purpose and encouraging individuals and organizations to participate actively in combating the crime. The public should also be enlightened on combating corruption.
Khoja said the Cabinet approved the national strategy to develop the handicraft industry and called for a national program for the purpose. It instructed the Finance Ministry to allocate funds in the budget to develop the industry. There will be a committee under the chairmanship of Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, to supervise the program.
The Cabinet approved subsidy for locally manufactured baby milk, adding that the amount would be equal to the subsidy provided to imported baby milk. A committee will be set up to specify the required conditions and specification of locally produced baby milk.
The Cabinet reshuffled the board of directors of Real Estate Development Fund with the minister of housing as its chairman and director general of the fund as its deputy chairman. Its members would be appointed for a three-year term.
It appointed Saad bin Abdul Aziz Al-Muhrej medical consultant at the National Guard; Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman Al-Buraidi legal consultant at the Court of Grievances; Othman bin Abdul Kareem Al-Matroudi legal consultant at the Supreme Judiciary Council; Duwas bin Fehaid Al-Shammari deputy mayor for construction and projects; and Saeed bin Ali Al-Daeer geologist at the Ministry of Water and Electricity.