Tenders for world's longest causeway imminent

Hunt for firms to build $3bn Bahrain-Qatar bridge to begin soon, official says.

Plans to build the causeway remain in place
Plans to build the causeway remain in place

The hunt for contractors to build the proposed US $3 billion (AED11 billion) Bahrain-Qatar causeway could soon begin.

The causeway, whose construction has been shrouded in doubt for the past few years, would be the world's longest fixed sea link connecting the GCC states of Bahrain and Qatar.

The 40-kilometre bridge will link Ras Esharaq on the northwest coast of Qatar with Askar Village, south of Manama on the east coast of Bahrain.

The link is expected to consist of a number of bridges combined with roads constructed on embankments and will be a natural extension of the King Fahd Causeway that connects Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which will then end up linking the entire region.

Danish engineering consultants, Cowi, completed the preliminary design and study of roads two years ago, but financing and political issues have so far hampered the project.

"Cowi has completed the preliminary designs, so their work is over," said Essam Khalaf, assistant undersecretary for roads, Ministry of Public Works, Bahrain. "It still hasn't been decided whether they'll be taken on as consultant for the project, or if another company will.

"Discussions are still ongoing on a political level, so that is what is taking time. A lot of things need to be decided - the financing, the cross-country border issues, systems that have to be put in place and other political issues. We're just waiting to get the green light to take on a contractor. The plans are definitely going forward though. Qatar also plans to build an 80km highway to Doha from where the bridge joins its side, in order to link its capital."

Construction on connecting roads in Qatar has already begun. "The North Road, which will connect the causeway to the mainland, is already under construction," said Mahmud Jamil, project manager, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture, Qatar. "The bridge will probably be the last part to be constructed. We aren't waiting for it to be done, we're carrying on with our own works on this side."

In September 2001, Cowi signed a US $11.3 million contract for the first phase of the project with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture in Qatar.

Together with Sund & Bælt Partner, DHI Water & Environment and the architects Dissing+Weitling, Cowi undertook the preliminary engineering and environmental investigations and studies.

A spokesperson for Cowi said: "We have no comment at this stage except that we have completed our task and don't know where things are at."

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