EXCLUSIVE: Official says Saudi-Bahrain causeway tender to be released imminently

27 February 2018
The second causeway that will link Saudi Arabia and Bahrain has generated major interest from consultants and contractors

The transport ministries of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and the King Fahd Causeway Authority, expect to issue the request for proposal (RFP) for the transaction advisory contract for the King Hamad Causeway project in the first half of 2018.

According to Bahrain Transport and Telecommunications Minister Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, they expect the RFP document to be ready “in a few weeks’ time”.

MEED understands that the document has to be approved by Saudi Arabia’s Transport Ministry before it can be issued to potential bidders.

“It is important that we start today… because we might need eight years to complete the project,” Mohammed tells MEED.

Teams comprising financial, technical and legal firms are expected to bid for the contract.

The selected transaction advisory team will undertake a detailed project feasibility study, which is expected to take up to six months.

Close to 200 firms comprising finance, legal and technical experts as well as contractors are understood to have expressed an interest in the project last year.

Traffic volume at the existing King Fahd Causeway, the first bridge to link Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, have convinced authorities to build the second causeway, which will have a rail component.

In 2016, an average of 30,332 cars per day used the causeway, which began operating in 2002.

“[King Hamad Causeway] is an attractive project for the private sector since the existing causeway provides a very effective case reference,” Mohammed says. “It will benefit everybody and is endorsed by leaders in both countries… it will create new economic activities and jobs particularly for Bahrain.”

Mohammed says they are confident that the project will be executed with the highest level of transparency and efficiency because “we need to make sure we have the best deal to deliver the project.”

The causeway is also expected to play a key role in furthering the two countries’ economic and political integration.

“Anyone who comes to Bahrain must have … easy access to other cities in this market, the causeway is so important because Saudi Arabia as you know is the largest market in this region. It will facilitate movement of people and services between the two countries,” Mohammed says.

It is understood that the clients aim to tender the main contract to finance, develop and operate the scheme in December.

King Hamad Causeway will feature a 25km road and rail causeway in the same alignment as the existing King Fahd causeway. The railway segment will extend inland by another 21km into Saudi Arabia and 24km into Bahrain.

UK-based consultancy PwC completed a due diligence study for the project in cooperation with Canada-based SNC Lavalin last year.

 

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