A fleet of 28 double-decker buses built in China has gone into service on the streets of the Iraqi capital, the public transport chief announced Monday, April 2.
Thabet Mahmoud Gharib, quoted in newspapers, said they were the first of a consignment of 200 double-deckers ordered from China to revamp Baghdad's public transport system. The rest are due for delivery over the next three months.
Baghdad's old fleet of 400 single-decker buses, which are to be transferred to the provinces, has been run down by a shortage of spare parts over the past decade of sanctions since Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990.
The contract with China was approved under the UN oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to export crude to finance imports of food, medicine and other essential items for its 22-million population.
But Gharib said a $26.59-million contract for 400 Vietnamese buses was being blocked "for no reason" by US and British representatives on the UN sanctions committee which vets Iraq's imports. And the committee has kept on hold a contract for 120 trucks for the past 18 months, the official said.
Apart from buses, around 150,000 licensed taxis serve the 4.5 million residents of Baghdad as well as an estimated 75,000 private vehicles whose owners also try to make a living off taxi driving. — (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)