MUSCAT, JULY 18 – Work on a key 46-kilometre section of the Batinah Expressway project, construction of which came to a grinding halt early last year after the contractor went under, will soon be revived following the intervention of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC).
Yesterday, well-known Omani contractor Galfar Engineering & Contracting SAOG announced that it has been appointed by MoTC to execute the incomplete section at a cost of around RO 26.2 million.
The section, spanning the distance from Wadi Himli in Wilayat Suwaiq to Hafeet in Wilayat Saham, corresponds to Package 3 of the 272-kilometre-long Batinah Expressway project — a new superhighway that promises to catalyse investment and development all along the hinterland of Oman’s Batinah coast.
The eight-lane Expressway project — one of the largest and most strategic of MoTC’s road building schemes — starts where the Muscat Expressway ends at Halban and extends all the way to Khatmat Malaha in Wilayat Shinas.
“The Ministry of Finance has accepted the contract signed between the company and the Ministry of Transport and Communications vide their letter dated 17 July 2017,” said Galfar in a filing to the Capital Market Authority (CMA) yesterday.
Galfar’s remit is to complete all road work left unfinished by the previous contractor and prepare the section for traffic flows. Included in the scope of the previous contractor’s award were four intersections, a flyover, seven wadi bridges and two underpasses.
Earlier, in a statement acknowledging delays in the completion of Package 3, MoTC had announced on November 21, 2016 that the previous contractor had failed to deliver on its contractual obligations on account of its own internal difficulties. It said it was weighing legal action against the contractor at the time, and pledged to get a new contractor on board.
Notably, Muscat-listed Galfar is also executing Package 1 of the expressway, covering a 45 km distance from the Halban intersection in Barka to Khabat Al Wadan.
The scope includes five flyovers, five intersections, two wadi bridges and an underpass. A key stretch of this section has since been opened to traffic. Sections corresponding to Packages 2, 4 and 5 are in various stages of completion.
Yesterday’s announcement comes against the backdrop of an agreement signed in April by the Omani government with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) effectively boosting the Fund’s contribution for the project from $1.75 billion to $2.5 billion.