MUSCAT: Efforts to establish a first-ever metro network across the capital city of the Sultanate of Oman are now off the starting blocks with the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MTCIT) inviting qualified international consultants to bid for its contract to provide advisory services linked to the landmark project.
Dubbed ‘Muscat Metro’, the project is envisioned as a mass transit system suitably integrated with other modes of public transportation to offer the inhabitants of the city an efficient and world-class sustainable transportation solution.
The selected consultant will support the Ministry in “delivering key decisions” pertaining to the prestigious project, described as a “key mass transit” system as identified by various studies, the Ministry said.
With the launch of the tendering process, Phase 1 of the Ministry’s strategy the procurement of the Muscat Metro project is officially underway, with a primarily focus on the pre-feasibility stage of its development.
Separately, the Ministry has also commissioned a study to assess the socioeconomic benefits of the project for Muscat Governorate, as well as the wider economy. In a recent interview to Oman TV, Eng Said bin Hamoud al Maawali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, said a team of experts has been assembled to study the overall economic impact of the Muscat Metro project with a view to ensuring its long-term viability.
Bids for the consultancy contract are due to be opened on February 1, 2023, with an award to be finalized either through negotiations or a direct award, according to the Ministry.
According to industry experts, a metro system will not only add a new mode of public transportation to Muscat’s current offerings, presently limited to bus, cab, taxi pool and ride hailing options, but also boost the city’s urban and tourist appeal. Most importantly, the network will help reduce congestion on main streets, thereby contributing to a lower environmental footprint from the transport sector.
Moreover, with the Sultanate of Oman transitioning away from planet-warming hydrocarbon resources for its energy needs to greener fuels and zero-carbon fuel cells, a metro powered by electricity, and potentially green hydrogen in the future, will contribute to the nation’s overall decarbonisation strategy, it is pointed out.
Earlier visions for a mass transit system for Muscat, integrated with a national rail network, included proposals for, among other alternatives, an elevated network running along the length of Sultan Qaboos Street from Al Wadi Al Kabir to Al Khoud / Seeb in the north of the capital.
But with the city having since grown horizontally as well, particularly in the wake of the construction of the Muscat Expressway, new neighbourhoods have mushroomed all across the suburbs. Consequently, branch lines will be necessary to connect populous suburbs, notably Al Amerat, Al Ansab, Rusayl and even Halban, to the network, experts add.