Road to connect Duqm
Wed, 16 May 2012
By Conrad Prabhu — MUSCAT — Construction work on the first phase of a multi-stage plan to improve road connectivity with Duqm — the site of an ambitious maritime port city and industrial hub — will commence shortly. The plan centres on an initiative to upgrade the 372-km-long Sinaw-Mahout-Duqm carriageway, which is currently the principal overland route to Duqm via the Sharqiyah South Governorate.
Vehicles plying between much of the northern half of the Sultanate and Duqm inevitably use this key blacktop because of the advantages in distance (relative to other routes) as well as conveniences offered en route in the form of the presence of filling stations, restaurants, motels and convenience stores.
However, with traffic poised to grow exponentially along this carriageway, in line with Duqm’s planned development into an industrial and maritime hub, an upgrade of the Sinaw-Mahout-Duqm has now become imperative, according to the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The ministry’s goal is to upgrade the existing single carriageway into an all-weather motorway, with an expanded asphalt width, and broader pavement for overlays.
At several places along the route, the horizontal and vertical alignment will be improved to accommodate higher design speeds. Importantly, the realigned route will bypass existing populated areas, including Sinaw town, as well as the ecologically important sabkha (intertidal mudflats) and nearby sand dunes.
This streamlined alignment will knock off some 20 km from the current distance, reducing the length of the upgraded carriageway to around 351 km. Earlier this week, Omani contracting firm Khalid bin Ahmed & Sons was awarded a contract to execute Section 1 of the upgraded Sinaw-Mahout-Duqm road at a cost of RO 41.684 million.
Section 1 covers the first 81 km of the 351-km-long upgrade. There are three more sections that together make up the length of the upgraded Sinaw-Mahout-Duqm carriageway. While Sections 2 and 3 are currently under tender, Section 4 will be retendered after a review of the design, it is learnt. Total investment in the upgrade is pegged at a ballpark RO 200 million, say experts.
According to Ministry officials, Section 1 starts about 5 km from the entrance to Sinaw town where a roundabout is currently located. As part of its brief, Khalid bin Ahmed & Sons will construct a new single carriageway on the right hand side of the existing blacktop. The new carriageway will however take a detour for the first 40 km as it bypasses populated areas around Sinaw town. Bypasses are also envisaged at Al Ayun and Barzaman en route. A 24-month timeframe has been stipulated for the completion of Section 1.
Section 2, which is currently under tender, covers a 100-km stretch that starts where Khalid bin Ahmed & Sons’ contract ends. Several vented floodways and box culverts will be built along this stretch.
Section 3, also covering a distance of 1,100 km, begins from near Madayrah village and ends close to Rumayli village. As with previous stretches, this section too will feature pipe and box culverts, safety barriers and dykes. Finally, Section 4, covering the remaining 70 km to Duqm, is expected to be refloated apparently after a design overhaul.
Completed in the late 1990s, the existing Sinaw-Mahout carriageway was extended to Duqm in 2002 as part of a major road development programme targeting expansive Wusta Governorate. Conser & Partners are the Ministry’s consultants for the Sinaw-Mahout-Duqm road upgrade.
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