Oman’s Ministry reveals cost of constructing existing, new roads, repairing damages during 2023

Muscat: Eng. Said Hamoud Al Maawali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, revealed that the cost of constructing existing and new roads, maintaining and repairing road damage due to climatic conditions during 2023, stands at more than RO one billion.

The move aims at providing a wide network of roads of competitive quality that contribute to the development and growth of various sectors in the Sultanate of Oman, ensuring smooth flow and transport of individuals and vehicles, and stimulating commercial and logistical traffic.

This was stated during the 10th media briefing of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology held at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre in Muscat today.

Al Maawali added that the value of tenders awarded in 2022 stood at about RO 230 million, including RO 208 million in the transport and logistics sector, and RO 22 million in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

He explained that the percentage of completion of change orders and late annexes of projects before 2020 amounted to 97 percent, while the percentage of change orders after 2020 was about 12 percent for 60 projects under implementation.

He added that the Ministry seeks to increase import and export through Omani ports by increasing the goods traffic by no less than 7 percent annually, increasing the container traffic rate by no less than 5 percent, and improving the indicators of the transport and logistics sector, including the logistic performance index of the Sultanate of Oman, to become among the best 50 countries around worldwide, the road quality index to be among the best 25 countries, and the port services efficiency index to be among the best 25 countries around the world, in addition to raising the financial return index from the maritime affairs sector to 10 percent.

As for the Ministry’s objectives in the communications and information technology sector for 2023, Eng. Said Hamoud Al Maawali indicated that among these objectives is raising the e-government development index to join the top 50 countries, digitizing more than 200 government services, and implementing more than 5 projects for the National Center for Space, Advanced Technology and Artificial Intelligence, in addition to coaching more than 2,000 people within “Makeen” initiative to qualify digital competencies.

The minister pointed out that before the end of March 2023, (Diba – Lima – Khasab) road will be awarded after completing the technical analysis submitted by 5 companies.

He added that the Ministry has proposals that contribute to solving the problem of traffic congestion in the Governorate of Muscat by identifying three alternative routes. They are, the minister said, Nakhal-Bidbid, A’Seeb-Bidbid, Al Amerat-Dama Wa Ta’eein, and they are now in the stages of designing and determining the route.

On his turn, Eng. Khamis Mohammed Al Shamakhi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology for Transport, said that the Ministry seeks to develop Omani ports that enable the Sultanate of Oman to be an international logistics hub.

He pointed out that in 2022, Omani ports received about 9,800 ships and 5.2 million containers, while the volume of bulk and general cargo rose to more than 90 million tons, and the number of tourists reached 205,000.

Al Shamakhi said, “The regular public transport buses in the Sultanate of Oman managed during 2022 to transport more than 6.4 million passengers on the internal lines in the Governorate of Muscat and the external lines heading to various governorates, with a growth rate of 185 percent compared to 2021.

The Transport Undersecretary further said that the Ministry has provided more than 83,000 services through “Naql” platform, including the issuance of more than 30,000 new operating cards for land transport, the issuance of more than 4,000 licenses for land transport activities, and more than 15,000 permits for foreign means of transport.

He indicated that the cost of periodic road maintenance and repair of damages resulting from climatic conditions stood at more than RO 250 million, of which RO 27 million as the cost of dirt and mountain road maintenance contracts for a period of 5 years, and RO 57 million as the cost of asphalt road maintenance contracts for a period of 5 years.

Work is underway to finalize the awarding of the remaining 3 asphalt road maintenance projects, with an estimated value of more than RO 20 million, while the value of damage repair projects on the road network caused by adverse climatic conditions stood at more than RO 150 million, Al Shamakhi continued.

He also spoke about the existing and new strategic road projects for 2023 with a total length of more than 1,300 km, including Diba-Lima-Khasab road, the completion of the Al Batinah coastal road (Barka-A’Suwaiq), (Haima-Thumrait dual-carriageway), the strategic roads linking the Wilayat of Muqshin, (Raysut-Al Mughsail dual-carriageway), (Jaalan Bani Bu Ali – Jaalan Bani Bu Hassan dual-carriageway), (Harweb-Al Mazyounah-Metin) road, and the completion of the A’Sharqiyah Expressway project

. The Transport Undersecretary added that the Ministry will work during 2023 to start and continue a number of projects with a length of more than 128 km, including paving Al Aflaj road in the Wilayat of Al Mudhaibi, rehabilitating (Al Hazm-A’Rustaq) road in the Wilayat of A’Rustaq, and rehabilitating the (Tawia Ateer-Raka-Jubjat) road, as well as the ehabilitation of Aqabat Al Shuwaimiyah in the Wilayat of Shaleem and Al Halaniyat Islands, and a project to rehabilitate (Bidbid-Nizwa) road in separate locations.

On his turn, Dr. Ali Amer Al Shithani, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology for Communications and Information Technology, reviewed the most important indicators of this sector.

He said the percentage of the contribution of the digital economy to the GDP during 2021 was about 2 percent, while the contribution of telecommunications to the GDP amounted to 1.6 percent.

He pointed out that there are 20 submarine cables for the Internet connected to the Sultanate of Oman in 2022 which reflects the strong position of the Sultanate of Oman as an important regional center for communication and information transit at the regional and international levels.

He added that the Ministry attracted more than RO 300 million in technical investments during 2022, represented by the Green Data Center, the Semiconductor Company and Amazon.

He furthered that in 2022, the Sultanate of Oman ranked 50th internationally in the e-government development index, and 52nd globally in the government readiness index for artificial intelligence, and 53rd internationally in the networked readiness index.

On the indicators of communications and Internet use in the Sultanate of Oman during 2022, Dr. Ali Al Shithani said: The number of providers of data centers and private cloud services in the Sultanate of Oman has reached 5 providers, while the number of companies licensed to provide telecommunications services of the first category reached 8 companies.

He pointed out that the percentage of mobile phone subscribers per 100 people in 2022 amounted to 140 percent, and that the population coverage of the 4th generation networks reached 98 percent and the 5th generation reached 87 percent. The percentage of mobile broadband subscribers reached 121 percent, and the percentage of fixed broadband Internet subscribers reached 75 percent, he added.

He also pointed out that 94 percent of Omani families have internet, according to the 2021 statistics, and those percentages indicate that there is a remarkable development in the demand for the Internet, the World Wide Web, and societal digital transformation. This will reflect positively on digital transformation projects in the Sultanate of Oman, Al Shithani noted.

He continued that the number of workers in the information and communication technology sector in the Sultanate of Oman during 2022 stood at about 40,000 employees operating in various specialties of this sector, while the percentage of graduates from universities in the same sector reached 18 percent of the total graduates for the academic year (2021/2022).

The Undersecretary for Communications and Information Technology confirmed that the Ministry will to update a number of laws in 2023 including the Electronic Transactions Law, the Telecommunication Regulatory Law, the Cyber Crimes Law, and the Postal Law, in addition to working on setting the general policy for the postal sector, its executive programme, the executive regulations for the Personal Data Protection Law, the Internet usage policy, and the national data governance framework.

The media briefing witnessed launching the national campaign for the cybersecurity industry, the new identity of “Naql” platform concerned with issuing vehicle operating cards, licenses and permits for workers in land transport activities, and the “Aber” application for taxis. – ONA

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