Toll system envisaged for Oman’s first truck road project

Muscat: A proposed new carriageway connecting Thamrait with Salalah in Dhofar Governorate – and earmarked primarily for heavy trucks and commercial vehicles – is envisaged as a toll road project to be procured based on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

Overseeing the procurement process is the Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership (PAPP), which was established pursuant to the promulgation of Royal Decree 54/2019 to manage and administer the Tawazun Oman Programme (Offset), Privatisation Law and Public-Private Partnership Law.

Earlier this week, the Authority invited qualified consultants to prequalify for a competitive tender leading to the award of a Transaction Advisory Services contract covering the procurement of the landmark project.

The proposed Salalah – Thamrait Truck Road envisions the construction of an efficient, all-weather alternative to the current 85-km carriageway that, as part of the arterial Adam – Salalah, currently serves as the only lifeline connecting the north of Oman with Dhofar Governorate.

However, as the dual carriageway twists and turns through the Dhofar Mountains, its sharp bends and steep gradients have made it prone to accidents and also contributed to frequent traffic snarls. Furthermore, an upsurge in mining, quarrying and farming activity in the Thamrait area in recent years has resulted in sharp increase in the number of heavy trucks and commercial vehicles headed to Salalah city and its transhipment hub.

“These economic activities represent a very important milestone of the local economy, due to connections to the Salalah Port, also considering the commercial connections to Yemen and the economic growth of Salalah Port trading activity,” stressed the PAPP said in a background note for interested bidders.

“For the aforementioned reasons, it is important to assume an adequate development and planning of road connections, minimising the travel time duration (especially for the trucks) crossing the Dhofar mountains. The geometric features of the current roads (National Road 31) don’t allow an adequate truck flow, due to the high gradients of the road and some small radius curves, determining very low speed of the vehicles, causing high travel time,” it stated.

Significantly, the Ministry of Transport together with Asyad Group – the Sultanate’s transport and logistics development holding company – had explored the feasibility of a toll-based system for the proposed new truck road from Thamrait area to Salalah Port area. The study centred on the potential for a dual carriageway (two lanes on either side) with a design speed of 110 km/hour.

According to the Authority, the selected consultant’s mandate will cover Technical, Financial and Legal advisory services encompassing PPP Feasibility Studies, Procurement Support, Negotiation Support, and Post-Contract Award Support (optional).  Bidders should have experience in the procurement of toll roads and PPP ventures of a capex value of over $500 million.  The deadline for submission of qualifications is June 18, 2020.