Riyadh residents seek better engagement and more private sector involvement: Poll


RIYADH — AECOM’s 2019 Future of Infrastructure Report revealed Riyadh citizens want better engagement and more private sector involvement in the development of their infrastructure.

Almost 80% of Riyadh’s respondents agree that the private sector should be more involved, while only 14% agree that, when they are asked to feedback, it’s at an appropriate point in the process for their voice to be heard.

The global research, surveyed more than 10,000 people across 10 major international cities for their views on city infrastructure, priorities for improvement and ambitions for future infrastructure.

Riyadh stood out in four areas: eagerness for private sector involvement in infrastructure development, the unaffordability of electricity, reliance on personal cars and taxis, and confidence in the city’s resilience.

Aligning to the Vision 2030, 78% of citizens responded in favor of more private sector involvement in the development of infrastructure.

Globally this response was second only to Mumbai (82%).

Residents are frustrated by the cost of utility bills, with 75% stating electricity bills are unaffordable, they want to see more environmentally sustainable solutions to the city’s infrastructure challenges.

When it came to public transport, Riyadh citizens reported the lowest use of all cities surveyed — just 5% use buses as their primary mode of transport. Instead, the car is the clear transport mode of choice with 70% dependent on their own car and 17% on taxis to move around the city.

Where Riyadh came out on top was regarding resilience, with residents showing confidence in the city’s resilience against natural disasters, cyberattacks and terrorism.

Crucially, for the citizens of Riyadh, smarter, faster, better infrastructure is a team effort. Citizens want to have more say on infrastructure improvements earlier in the planning stage and 56% of Riyadh citizens are happy to share their personal data with relevant city agencies to help them improve city infrastructure or infrastructure services.

Ian Laski, President, AECOM Arabia, said: “It’s clear that the people of Riyadh care about their infrastructure. Open to investment and innovation, with a young and engaged expanding population, people want to be consulted. The Riyadh authorities are well ahead in all but one of the cities surveyed regarding making it easy for citizens to respond through mobile channels, but still people are critical that this engagement is too late. Not only do people want their their opinions heard, they want them to matter and they want a say in the future of their city.

“Authorities should be pleased that citizens recognize the steps that are being made to improve the city’s transportation; 72% of citizens are happier than 12 months ago with the service provided by airports, while 60% note an improvement in roads and bridges. The next challenge will be to ensure systems like the Riyadh Metro are fully adopted. With the highest dependency on cars of any city surveyed, all eyes are now on Riyadh to see how the population’s behavior will change as new infrastructure opens to the public.”

Key statistics:

• 40% of Riyadh citizens say that they have not had a chance to feedback on public transport services during the past year.

• 46% of Riyadh citizens feel that when they are asked for feedback about infrastructure, it is too late in the process for their voice to be heard or have an impact.

• 57% believe city planning authorities are making it easier for citizens to interact with them through social media

• Outages to water supply have been experienced, on average, by Riyadh respondents 2.2 times in the last year

• 43% of Riyadh citizens describe their water bill as unaffordable

• 75% of Riyadh citizens describe their electricity bill as unaffordable

• 40% of Riyadh respondents would be willing to pay higher taxes to fund improvements of infrastructure.

• 41% of Riyadh citizens would not be willing to pay higher fares for public transportation.

• 78% agree that the private sector should be more involved in infrastructure development.

• 51% of Riyadh respondents think that changes in elected city officials often result in major changes to infrastructure policy.

• 46% believe that city officials take a short-term view of infrastructure planning.

• 32% state that large-scale transportation projects in Riyadh are usually delivered late.

• 63% regularly use mobile apps to stay current on the status of public transport.

• 43% of Riyadh respondents believe their city lags behind other city authorities when it comes to sustainability.

• 56% of citizens say they are happy to share their personal data with relevant city agencies to help improve infrastructure. — SG