By: Conrad Prabhu
MUSCAT: Oman’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) says it plans to establish a special unit to oversee the management of the vast network of paved and unpaved roads, as well as bridges and other road-related assets, currently under its jurisdiction. The initiative is a key part of a longer-term initiative by Ministry to implement a comprehensive system for the management of road assets under its purview.
Of the estimated 60,000 kilometres of roads that crisscross the length and breadth of the Sultanate, the Ministry has direct responsibility for the funding, development and maintenance of some 30,000 km of these roads. They include approximately 13,300 km of paved roads comprising a mix of modern expressways, dual carriageways, and interurban single carriageway highways, as well as 16,000 km of unpaved roads. Also falling within the Ministry’s remit are around 250 bridges, 4,000 culverts, retaining walls, and other road infrastructure.
Responsibility for the remaining 30,000 km of roads lies with other government and public sector bodies, such as Muscat Municipality, Sohar Municipality, Dhofar Municipality, Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, Ministry of Defence and Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).
Given the importance of roads as a key enabler of economic growth and social well-being, the Ministry is in the process of appointing a consultant to formulate a long-term strategy for the management of this ‘national asset’.
“Looking to the future, and the need to maximise the benefits of this investment for the Omani people in the longer term, MoTC has identified the need to enhance and strengthen its resources, capacity and skills to manage and maintain the roads infrastructure as a key national asset and the significant resources invested in it,” it said.
According to authorities, the Road Management System (RMS) will be an information and decision support tool that identifies the optimal allocation of resources for the management, operation, preservation and enhancement of a safe and well-engineered roads infrastructure asset to meet the needs of current and future road users.
The aim of this project is to implement a system that can be utilised to assist in planning and prioritising road related investments at strategic, tactical and operational levels. The system should help in managing the Omani road network with the objective function of minimising cost to the national economy whilst maximising benefits to road users.
As part of the project, the selected consultant will be required to develop and/or update a Road Network Classification and Numbering System for entire national road network comprising around 30,000 km of asphalted roads and 30,500 km of unpaved roads. The consultant will also develop a location referencing system for the Oman roads network that can be incorporated and used in the development of the road management system (RMS).
A separate RMS Implementation Unit (RMS-IU) is proposed to be established within the Ministry with the goal of supporting capacity building and technology transfer. This unit will assume eventual responsibility for the management of the Road Management System on behalf of MoTC in the longer term.
SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER