Transport and Communications Minister/ Press Conference [Oman News Agency]
(Oman News Agency Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Muscat, Jan 8 (ONA) --- Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed al- Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications said that this year will witness a number of projects and initiatives that will bring new economic diversification in the Sultanate's GDP, enhance governmental Partnership with the private sector and generate new job opportunities that enhance the investment environment in different fields.
In the press conference, which was held today, to unveil the Ministry of Transport and Communications plans and programmes for 2014, Dr. Al- Futaisi pointed out that the railway project is on top of the agenda of the Ministry's plans for this year. The per-qualification of the project contractors will commence soon and hopefully the first part of construction from Al Buraimi to Sohar will be awarded by the end of this year. Necessary arrangement will be made to maximize the in country and added value of the project.
He pointed out that while some of the underway projects will be completed, new projects will be tendered and floated. The Al Batinah Express Road comes on top of these projects.
He added that the Ministry seeks to complete the award of the road projects packages, such as the dual carriageway projects, such as Bidbid-Sur ( second stage, (Adam- Thumrait ( Phase I ) first & second parts), Sinaw- Mahout-A'Duqm (third and fourth parts), Diba-Lima- Khasab, Barka- Nakhal, Nizwa- Izki, Nizwa - Bahla, Taqah-Mirbat,Ibri- Yanqul ( phase II ) and other projects.
As for the ports sector, the Minister of Transport and Communications said that the major project is the transfer of the commercial activities from Sultan Qaboos Port to Sohar Port. The Ministry has announced that August 31st 2014 will be the deadline for receiving commercial vessels at the Port. Work is also underway to prepare the detailed designs of the master lay out for Sultan Qaboos Port and rehabilitating it for tourism use, as well as establishing the company that will develop it. Khasab Port development project, which comes in response to the royal orders, is also underway.
Shinas Port in the North Al Batinah Governorate will also be developed. The Ministry will coordinate with the National Ferries Company to launch two ferries for the maritime route (Shannah- Masirah).
As for the civil aviation sector, he pointed out that Ministry would focus on benefiting from the completed packages at the airport projects. This may include the early operation of the domestic airports in Sohar, A'Duqm and Ras Al Hadd, as well as temporary passenger terminals until the third package of these airports is over. He added that while there is a delay in completing the passenger terminal at Muscat International Airport, which required postponement of its opening, the Ministry would do everything possible to open the 'phase I' , which includes the runway, the control tower, the air movement control complex and the building of the Public Authority for Civil Aviation. The Ministry will strive to open Salalah Airport this year.
As for the communication sector, he pointed out that the Ministry, in collaboration with the respective stakeholders, will implement the national broadband strategy and in particular availing the communication and the broadband services at the remote areas and villages using satellites.
The Ministry will also complete the implementation of the general policy of the telecommunications sector for the next five years including the second stage of frequency evacuation.
He pointed out that the plan of the Ministry will focus this year on preparing the general policy for the post sector. The Ministry, through a committee that comprises all stakeholders, will also continue its efforts to prepare a new telecommunications law.
As for the transport sector, Dr. Al- Futaisi said that the Ministry now consi ders restructuring of the sector by providing a modern institutional framework that keeps pace with the modern developments witnessed by the sector and meet the international requirements related to having legal and regulatory frameworks for the different multiple transport sectors.
He added that the Ministry in collaboration with the Supreme Council for Planning and other respective organizations and the private sector will develop a national strategy for the integrated transport and logistic services -on the short term till 2020 and on the long -term till 2040. The national strategy will take into consideration the integrated abilities for the ports, airports, railways and the logistic areas projects.
He affirmed that this year would witness opening new avenues for private and public investment. The private sector investments will be focused in transport sectors, such as aviation, ports, trains and strategic roads. The Ministry will seek the assistance of a specialized consultant in commercial investments.
He added that the Ministry is fully aware that this should be accompanied by simplification and facilitation of procedures and the management of the services rendered to make the commercial and logistic community more competitive and efficient.
He pointed out that the Ministry's plan aims at increasing public awareness of the Ministry's projects. Thanks to the wise vision of His Majesty the Sultan, the Sultanate was ranked third on the world level in road quality in the report published by the World Economic Forum. He pointed out that Salalah Port came 18th on the world level at the best world ports list. It was also ranked 6th on the world level in the field of container and cargo shipping. It came third on the MENA level, as per the report published by a specialized trade magazine.He also said that as of the end of 2013, Omani ports processed more than about 22 million shipping tons (import and export). The number of containers handled at Oman's ports, as of the end of December 2013, amounted to 4 million TEU. The number of passengers at Muscat International Airport continued its increase to hit more than 8 million by the end of 2013. The number of passengers recorded by Salalah Airport stood at 740,000. More than 100,000 air cargo tons were processed through Muscat International Airport. As of the end of December 2013, the length of the asphalt roads amounted to about 12,837 km.He added that many single and dual carriageway projects were opened last year. The most important of these projects are Hasik/ A'Shuwaimiyah (87km), Aydam - Haruaib (62km) in Dhofar Governorate. They also include part of Ibri- A'Draiz- Maskan road in the A'Dhahirah Governorate (24km), in addition to Barka Bridge and a number of interchanges on the existing Al Batinah road.'Oman Railway Company ' was also established last year to supervise and implement the railway project. Measures for appointing the key and technical positions at the company are underway. The initial design consultant also initiated the initial designs paths. The project manager tender analysis is underway and hopefully it will be awarded soon, he furthered.He pointed out that during the investment opportunities at the railway project; the Ministry circulated the project onto participants to ensure active participation of the private sector.He added that the Ministry has transferred the remainder packages of A'Duqm Port project to the Public Authority of the Special Economic Zone in Duqm (SEZD), in response to the royal decree establishing the Authority.'The airport projects made remarkable progress as all the packages for the development of Muscat International Airport and Salalah Airport have been awarded. The passengers' terminals for the domestic airport were also floated. While the runways at Muscat, Sohar and A'Duqm airports are completed, work is underway to complete them at Salalah and Ras Al Hadd airports. During 2013, the Ministry also completed the delivery of Adam Airport to the Ministry of Defence and issued the system of the Public Authority for Civil Aviation and the formation of its board of directors.
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