Oman’s Transport & Communications Ministry has invited consultants to submit bids for a contract to conduct the feasibility studies for a causeway between Shanna and Masirah island, located off the eastern coast.

The selected consultant will carry out economic and social feasibility studies, initial planning and cost estimation for the proposed causeway, which is expected to cost between RO200m-RO250m ($520m-$649m). Prequalified firms have until 1 April to submit prices for the tender. The length of the causeway will be about 30 kilometres.

The Masirah causeway project was launched by a royal directive in June 2010, in which the Sultan asked the government to look at developing a bridge to link Masirah with the mainland.

The royal decree was issued in response to the cyclone Phet, which affected a large section of Oman’s eastern coast and Masirah island. The Sultan was keen to improve access and exit routes for Omanis living on Masirah.

The causeway is also planned to boost investment on Masirah and the connecting eastern coast by increasing tourism and commercial ties. The island currently has a population of about 12,000 people. The island is 95km long, 14km wide and contains an Omani airforce base located near to the island’s largest village of Daawah.

The causeway project is the latest major infrastructure scheme Oman is moving forward with. The sultanate has earmarked expenditure on social spending and infrastructure projects of RO12.9bn in its 2013 budget. One of the major infrastructure schemes the government has set as a priority in 2013 is the national railway network.

In February, the Transport & Communications Ministry invited international consultants to bid for the contract to provide consultancy services for the preliminary design of its 1,061km railway network.