Focus shifts to restoring road links

MUSCAT, May 28 – Four days since the cyclone hit the Governorate of Dhofar, focus now is entirely on rebuilding key link roads badly battered by the storm as the toll has gone up to five, while search is under way for missing. Dhofar Governorate has been cut off from the rest of the country. The Royal Oman Police (ROP) has announced that Taqah-Mirbat and Thamrait-Marmul roads, among others, have been totally closed for vehicular traffic. “For the moment, buses and private vehicles from Muscat, including trucks, have been stopped midway as roads leading to Salalah are deemed unsafe due to extensive damage,” according to eyewitnesses.
The Minister of Transport and Communications visited the governorate to review the status of roads and telecommunication infrastructure, and to gauge the extent of the damage.
The other concern for the authorities has been that people continue to venture into flowing wadis, which prompted the Public Prosecution to issue a warning.
“Intentionally crossing wadis that may risk your life and also the lives of fellow passengers is a crime punishable by imprisonment for three months and a fine of RO 500,” the warning said.
The Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA) said it rescued many people trapped in wadis, buildings, and removed obstacles from roads to ensure smooth traffic. It also facilitated operations from water stations in Mirbat with the aid of an electric generator.
“Till date, 233 notifications of different types were received and we urge everyone to remain cautious and avoid venturing out to avoid accidents and incurring losses,” a statement from the authority said.
“The dialysis unit at Sultan Qaboos Hospital was not affected by the cyclone and will start functioning as soon as efforts are made to bring back all dialysis patients shifted to Muscat last week,” the National Committee for Civil Defence (NCCD) said. The Ministry of Health said that Salalah Health Centre and Armed Forces Hospital will continue to receive emergency cases till Sultan Qaboos Hospital is opened for patients.

“Services will resume gradually at SQUH as some facilities have been affected. Operations at other health centres in the governorate, including Salalah and Sadah, were affected due to direct impact of rainwater,” the statement added. A mobile electricity generation station will be sent via sea to Dhalkout by Sultan’s Armed Forces, said Shaikh Salim bin Aufit al Shanfari, Chairman of Dhofar Municipality.
He added that efforts are under way to restore normalcy by removing obstacles and to facilitate reopening of roads.
In coordination with Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) in Dhofar and volunteer groups, essential and relief supplies were sent to Dhalkout through Salalah Port.
Meanwhile, Ali Salem al Basrawi, PACP’s Dhofar in-charge said: “We have ensured that no one took advantage of the situation and there are sufficient supplies of basic food items like rice, pulses, milk, bread and water as also batteries, candles, match boxes to meet the situation.”

Vinod Nair and Kaushalendra Singh