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Public transport in Muscat to get an impetus


The improvement of public transport system in Muscat will be accorded top priority, Mwasalat revealed on Monday.

According to sources in the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, the Public Transport Strategic Plan will include special lanes for public buses and a transport hub in Muscat.

Earlier, speaking exclusively to the 'Observer', Eng Said bin Hamoud al Maawali, Minister for Transport, Communications and Information Technology, said there is a plan to work on the metro railway project for Muscat as the authorities seek to develop the capital as a major metropolis in the coming years.

He said: "There is a committee formed for the metro in Muscat, and the first report has been already submitted. The committee included representatives of all relevant authorities'', said the minister.

According to sources, a survey for the project will be launched gradually in the coming months.

The matters related to public transport came up for a discussion on Monday following reports of traffic congestion on the two trunk routes – Muscat Expressway and Sultan Qaboos Street – on the first day of Ramadhan as people rushed home after work.

"We have to focus on reducing the need for cars by providing public transportation, pedestrian walking areas and tracks for cyclists'', said a citizen.

"Muscat doesn't have traffic or population density like in many countries, but plans have to be made keeping in mind the future as the country seeks to attract more tourists, visitors and investors'', said an official at the Ministry of Housing of Urban Development.

Traffic congestion is largely evident in areas starting from Al Khuwair towards Al Seeb and Maabela, according to motorists. "It may be noted that population density has shifted to new areas of Al Khuwair, Bausher and Al Khoudh.

In recent years, the government has taken several steps to streamline the public transport services in the country, which will help reduce dependence on private vehicles.

The taxi services in Muscat have been streamlined, with the ministry now approving two more companies to operate on-demand services at rates approved by the authorities. For the first time, approval was granted to start female taxi services in the country. The government has announced plans to introduce water taxis also in the country.

Speaking to the 'Observer', Eng Khamis bin Mohammed al Shamaki, Under-Secretary for Transport, had said: "There are plans to introduce water taxis in the Sultanate of Oman. We are in discussions to identify possible spots to develop water taxi service in Muscat and Musandam. Once the proposal is ready, a tender will be floated."

The decision states that water taxis will be used to transport people for an agreed fee, following approval from the Maritime Authority.


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