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The road to growth
New transport infrastructure in Oman to drive increased trade and foreign investment
Oman’s government aims to overhaul the Sultanate’s transportation infrastructure – improving safety and mobility – as part of its Ninth Development Plan (2016-20). The strategy focuses on improving regional connectivity to drive increased trade and foreign investment. To support these plans, OFID has extended a US$130 million loan to finance Oman’s Alsharqiya Expressway Tunnels Project, aiming to improve connectivity between the north and eastern regions of the country, and providing efficient and safe transport flows of people and goods.
The project involves constructing two ‘twin-tube’ tunnels – the first tunnels to be built in the country. The first tunnel will bypass a critical floodplain area and the town of Nidab; the second tunnel will bypass a major landslide location. Both will pass the Wadi Al Uqq area, notorious for its high accident rate.
Says Musab Alomar, Officer in Charge of OFID’s partnership with Oman: “This is the first time OFID has partnered with Oman. This project falls within Oman’s wider strategy to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons. This is one project in a series of new investments in Oman’s transportation sector which aim to position the country as a major regional logistics hub.”
The project will serve a population of one million residents of the Ash Sharqiyah and Ad Dakhiliyah governorates directly, and form part of the main route for a larger population of over 1.5 million residents of Al Batinah, Al-Buraymi and Adh Dhahirah governorates. This larger population will benefit from the road when traveling toward Sur – a city well known in the region for building wooden ships that once set sail for China, India, Zanzibar, Iraq and other countries.
Alomar adds: “The project includes a capacity building component that will provide comprehensive training to the tunnel operator, the Royal Oman Police, and emergency services staff to ensure the safe operation and maintenance of both tunnels. In addition, it has gender implications: it has been designed to address some of the factors that inhibit female mobility, by increasing safety features (road signs and street lighting). OFID looks forward to supporting Oman’s infrastructure plans – as well as sustainable development in the country more generally.”
The project will be co-financed by the government of Oman and is expected to be operational by the end of 2019.