Saudi Binladin Group (SBG)is frontrunner for the estimated SR 5,400 million ($1,440 million) project to ease overcrowding at the Jamarat bridge in Mina – the site of several disasters, including a crush on 1 February that killed 251 Hajj pilgrims (MEED 13:2:04).

SBG emerged as low bidder for the five-year construction contract after financial offers were opened on 23 November. The other bidders are Saudi Oger, the local/Lebanese Almabani General Contractors Company andAthens-based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC). The Municipal & Rural Affairs Ministry will take two-four weeks to evaluate the technical proposals and is expected to award the contract by the end of the year. Construction is scheduled to begin in February, immediately after next year’s Hajj.

The project aims at easing congestion among pilgrims as they pass the Mina site, where stones are thrown at pillars representing the devil. It will increase the capacity of the Jamarat bridge to about 500,000 pilgrims an hour from 80,000 pilgrims an hour. The elliptically shaped struture will have six storeys and a network of access ramps. The bridge’s decks will encircle the pillars allowing pilgrims to cast stones from several different levels.

Two floors will be built in the first year and one in each of the following years. Construction will stop during the Hajj season. The redevelopment of the bridge is being managed by the King Fahd Hajj Institute and involves religious and technical experts. Engineering design is being carried out by the London office of Lebanon’s Dar al-Handasah (Shair & Partners – MEED 16:7:04).