Ashghal sets out its stall

31 March 2006
The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) has revised the investment cost of its five-year infrastructure upgrade programme to QR 31,000 million ($8,540 million), an increase of QR 3,500 million ($964 million) on its original forecast. It is also looking at several new projects, including a new railway scheme to link the airport and port with the proposed GCC railway and a new central park complex in Doha.
Explaining the increased investment cost at the MEED Non-Energy Project Opportunities in Qatar conference on 26 March, Ahmed Sultan al-Kuwari, managing director assistant for technical affairs at Ashghal, said that a combination of increasing construction costs and new projects in the pipeline was behind the rise. 'Price escalation is an issue, but some of the extra cost has come from the newer projects,'

he said.

Of the total projected investment, QR 15,630 ($4,305 million) will be spent on road projects, QR 8,100 million ($2,231 million) on drainage schemes and QR 7,500 million ($2,066 million) on new buildings, including schools and hospitals.

Not included in the list are the Doha central park complex and the Qatar-Bahrain causeway. The former, also known as the World Garden, will be one of the most ambitious schemes developed to date in the state. Covering an area of more than 2 million square metres, it will comprise several climate-controlled domes, each with a different theme such as the Malaysian rain forest and the Arabian reef. It will also comprise theme rides, a boutique hotel, an international convention centre and the world's largest water, fire and light show, with the aim of attracting 1 million visitors a year. Concept designs are under way.

Also in the initial stages is a freight railway between the airport and port to Salwa road. 'We are at the concept stage to build a railway from the free zones to Salwa, from where it will connect to the GCC rail system,' said Al-Kuwari.

Al-Kuwari also said that he expected the multi-billion-dollar causeway project with Bahrain to get the go-ahead soon. 'It [the causeway] is going ahead, there's no doubt about it,' he said. 'The two governments will announce an authority to oversee the project very soon. They've reached agreement on all its aspects, including the concept.'

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