The Communications Ministry is pressing forward with its road-building programme, with a new round of awards worth a total of SR 676 million ($180 million) for the construction of a 607-kilometre highway from Riyadh to the southern region of Asir. Following a signing ceremony with local contractors on 15 September, Communications Minister Nasser al-Saloum reiterated the government's commitment to expanding the kingdom's road network using private sector investment.
Munawah Trading & Contracting Company, Ajzala Establishment, Saeed Hadi Faleh al-Dossary Establishment, Abdullah bin Jarallah Establishment, Oyuni Establishmentand Mohammed al-Martan Company, all local, will be responsible for the construction of a two-lane highway linking Riyadh, Al-Kharj, Houta, Khamaseen and Khamis Mushayt, and for the rehabilitation of the Houta-Laila road. The latest ministry announcement comes a month after the award of contracts worth SR 710 million ($189 million) for the construction of two highways in the east of the kingdom (MEED 16:8:02).
Under a five-year road-building programme, most new highways will be constructed on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis, Al-Saloum said. Revenue collected from toll booths will be used for road maintenance, and the ministry has recommended a toll of five halalas (SR 0.05 - $0.013) a kilometre to be levied on drivers using the new roads.
The government has allocated SR 20,000 million ($5,300 million) for the construction of 3,950 kilometres of new road in the next five years, with the emphasis on high-speed links between major cities and the remote provinces of Saudi Arabia. The ministry is working on a prefeasibility study for the largest single project in the programme, a SR 3,000 million ($800 million) motorway from Qassim to Rabigh (MEED 28:6:02).