The prequalification period will open in July for companies planning to bid for construction contracts in the Public Works Authority’s (Ashghal’s) QR46bn ($12.2bn) expressway programme, the MEED Qatar Transport 2011 Conference was told on 8 June.

An eight-week evaluation period is expected and the first expressway contracts under the programme are likely to be put out to bid near the end of 2011. The expressway programme calls for the construction of 550-kilometres of multi-lane highways connecting all of Qatar’s major population centres. The projects include the Lusail Expressway, which will link Doha with Lusail City.

US-based KBR signed in October 2010 a five-year contract to provide programme management and engineering services for Ashghal on its expressway programme. At present, it encompasses a total of 31 separate future expressway projects. Some of the projects will divided into several separate construction contracts.

The Ashghal expressway department’s programme director, Ian Bosward, told the conference the programme will involve a new and better way of delivering major public projects in Qatar. Bosward said the aim is to compile a prequalified list of construction companies with the proven capacity to deliver first-class road projects. Prequalification has already started for companies wishing to bid for consultancy contracts in the expressway programme.

Bosward said Ashghal will execute projects in either design, bid build or design and build contracts. He said three projects should be ready to be bid for by the end of 2011.

Ashghal has started prequalifying companies to act as programme manager for the local roads and drainage modernisation plan. This involves modernising and expanding local roads and supporting sewage systems throughout Qatar. Ashghal plans to invest $20bn in highways, roads and supporting drainage in 5-7 years starting in 2011.