Bahrain is preparing to launch its first public-private partnership (PPP) highway scheme in the next two to three months.

“In the coming few months, we will see the [first] PPP/PFI projects for roads and highways,” Fahmi bin Ali al-Jowder, Works Minister and minister in charge of the electricity and water authority tells MEED.

In numbers: Bahrain roads
2009 spending $253m
2010 roads budget $403m
Budget until 2013 $1bn
LRT and tram  $7.9bn
Source: MEED 

Bahrain is looking for alternative methods of financing larger projects as it has already committed itself to road projects in the kingdom. In 2010, it expects to spend about BD152m ($403m) on new roads and highway upgrades, with BD400m to be spent in the next three years on building strategic links, flyovers, underpasses and improvements of existing roads.

Bahrain has also set a budget of BD3bn that will be spent on building a light rail transit network and tram system by 2025. The first phase is expected to open in 2014.

The Works Ministry is currently developing a larger privatisation plan that also involves the wastewater sector, which is expected to be ready by the middle of 2010 at the latest.

The Muharraq sewerage project, which is Bahrain’s first privatisation project, will be developed over the next two-and-a-half years by a private developer along with a deep-gravity sewer. It will treat 100,000 cubic metres of influent each day initially and will increase to 160,000 cubic metres a day by 2030.

Bahrain’s existing sewerage plant at Tubli is also being privatised in line with the plan.

PPP funding is becoming an increasingly popular form of financing road projects in the Gulf led by Abu Dhabi, which is carrying out its $2.7bn expansion of the Mafraq-Ghweifat highway on a PPP basis. US’ Citigroup will be the liquidity adviser on the scheme.

The 327-kilometre highway will link Mafraq, close to Abu Dhabi Island, with Ghweifat, which is on the border with Saudi Arabia.