Interview: Erdeniin Bat-Üül
How are you looking to raise the level of health and safety procedures for construction in UB?
EREDENIIN BAT-ÜÜL: Despite the rapid growth in the construction sector, we still need to improve health and safety procedures in order to reduce risks in the work environment. In this regard, we can learn many things from foreign companies about international best practices, especially in terms of monitoring and supervising the correct implementation of such best practices. Therefore, we are planning to involve foreign construction and consulting companies that will help us in monitoring the implementation of health and safety procedures at construction sites, with a special focus on UB.
Traffic has become a key issue restricting mobility in UB. What projects are being implemented to ease traffic and congestion?
BAT-ÜÜL: The only way to reduce traffic in our capital city is by increasing the availability and usage of public transport. This will eventually decrease the number of cars and, as a result, reduce noise and air pollution. The UB’s administration is also about to start the construction of a metro line. We are collaborating with Japan and, as of now, the project is estimated to have a value of $1.5bn. The metro will go alongside Peace Avenue. We are also working to implement the bus rapid transit system in Ulaanbaatar, which will connect UB from north to south. We are collaborating with the Asian Development Bank on this project, which is estimated to cost $265m. On a smaller scale, we are also focusing on improving our public bus transport system. Within the next 10 years, we will purchase 2500 new buses from local manufacturers, adding much value to our domestic industry. Last but not least, we are working to improve urban development in the city and suburban areas. For example, we will ensure that health care facilities and schools are built closer to residential areas. With the implementation of such projects, we remain confident that 10 years from now traffic congestion in Ulaanbaatar will be reduced substantially.
What impact will decreased foreign direct investment (FDI) have on Mongolia’s construction sector? What needs to be done to revitalise growth?
BAT-ÜÜL: It is undeniable that lower FDI is affecting the growth of the economy. However, the construction sector is one of the areas where we are experiencing considerable activity, and, understandably, growth in construction works have been concentrated in the capital city. More construction projects in UB will create more business opportunities for companies. Consequently, opening such projects to international bidders will increase the attractiveness of the construction sector and will eventually boost FDI levels. The Mayor’s Office is currently developing a large-scale project that aims to increase the supply of residential apartments for our citizens. The project has an estimated an implementation period of four to five years, and will include redevelopment in selected locations. In order to implement this project, we are going to establish a housing fund under the city’s administration, which will act as the main commissioner. The non-official, rough estimate of the project’s value is $1bn, although this remains to be confirmed. The bidding process will be announced shortly and be open to international participants. We are trying to make the process transparent, open and in keeping with international standards, with the possibility for international firms to participate online. Additionally, we have formulated, along with our Japanese partners, a document entitled “Improvement in Master Plan of Ulaanbaatar City up to 2020 and Development Directions up to 2030”. This document includes the main guidelines for construction programmes and projects in the city, and has already been approved by parliament. Such a master plan will require high levels of foreign investment, knowledge and expertise, and the document also takes this into consideration. We need to facilitate a reliable, favourable and long-term investment climate for foreign investors that want to participate in the government’s development plan for UB.
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