By Conrad Prabhu -
MUSCAT — Sohar’s Globe Roundabout — one of the industrial port city’s best-known public landmarks — will soon make way for a major interchange designed to address peak hour traffic congestion at this key junction.
Well-known Omani contractor National United Engineering & Contracting Co LLC (NUEC) has won a contract from the Ministry of Transport and Communications to implement the interchange project at a cost of around RO 21 million.
NUEC led a field of six construction firms that bid for the contract. Competing for the project were Strabag Oman, CCC, Larsen & Toubro (Oman), Khalid bin Ahmed & Sons and Federici Stirling Batco.
The existing Globe Roundabout at Sohar sits astride one of the busiest traffic junctions on the Batinah Highway, which links Muscat with Khatmat Malaha and Dubai beyond. Besides feeding traffic into Sohar city, it also serves as a gateway into Dhahirah Governorate from the Batinah coast.
Heavy vehicles plying this key carriageway between Muscat and Sohar Port, and the United Arab Emirates beyond, must navigate this roundabout en route to their respective destinations, often contributing to lengthy tailbacks especially at peak hours.
NUEC’s brief is to dismantle the Globe Roundabout and build in its place an interchange that will allow for unimpeded traffic flows along the Batinah Highway. The roundabout will be converted into a signallised junction to streamline flows to and from the Yanqul and Sohar City ends.
Also as part of the contract, a four-kilometre stretch of the highway straddling the roundabout will be converted from the present four-lane system into a six-lane carriageway. The six-lane system will taper back into four lanes as it merges with the highway on either side.
Several improvements will be made to integrate the new interchange with the rest of the road system at the project site.
Pedestrian underpasses and overpasses are envisaged, in addition to bus bays and taxi stands at this key junction. A 3-kilometre network of at-grade roads will also be built along the Sohar-Yanqul stretch.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications has specified an 18-month time frame for the completion of the project. National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak) are the design and construction supervision consultants.
Significantly, the Sohar Interchange contract is the latest addition to NUEC’s expanding order book. The wholly Omani-owned company, which underwent a major rebranding and restructuring in 2008, is currently undertaking a number of infrastructure projects on behalf of various government and public sector clients.
The most prestigious of these is the RO 32 million Wadi Sahtin road project in Rustaq Wilayat.
The 30-kilometre carriageway, ranked among the most challenging road projects currently under development, is being implemented on the Royal directives of His Majesty the Sultan.
Earlier, the company is known to have proved its mettle in the execution of difficult road projects when it successfully completed the Yanqul-Fida-Dhank carriageway — a 31-km blacktop built largely through twisting wadis and rugged terrain.
Recently, NUEC was awarded a contract to replace four existing junctions along the Batinah Highway with flyovers at a cost of around RO 10 million. The contract covers the Bidaya-Sohar Gate stretch of the highway.
In Barka Wilayat, the company is developing a modern sewerage network while upgrading the Sewage Treatment Plant at a total cost of RO 13 million. The client is the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources.