JEDDAH: A proposed second causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain underlines the deep relations between the two kingdoms, the Bahraini transport minister said at a Manama forum highlighting the preparations for King Hamad Causeway.
The causeway is expected to cost $4 billion to $5 billion and the two kingdoms hope the private and public sectors will share the cost, risks and profits, Reuters quoted sources who attended the industry consultation event as saying. The project is expected to be owned by the private sector through a new company under a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement over 25-30 years.
Saudi Minister of Transport Sulaiman Al-Hamdan pointed out that Saudi Arabia, with its Vision 2030 plan, is “facilitating procedures for the private sector to contribute to strategic corporate programs to promote the economic growth of the region.”
Al-Hamdan, Bahraini Minister of Transportation and Telecommunication Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, and Ahmed Al-Hakbani, chairman of King Fahd Causeway Authority were among the officials who attended the meeting that took place in the Bahraini capital recently.
The second causeway will be parallel to the current King Fahd Causeway and is set to comprise of a rail line for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) network. The proposed initial design of the causeway project consists of vehicle lanes and a rail route linking Khalifa bin Salman Port of Bahrain to the Saudi Arabian railway link.
The meeting was attended by around 250 representatives of 150 companies from 22 countries, who are interested in contributing to several aspects of the project, including the construction, advisory, financing and legal sectors.
Advisers will be appointed in the first quarter of 2018 and pre-qualification requests are due to be issued in the second quarter of the year, Reuters reported.
Bahrain, with a population of 1.3 million, had 12.2 million visitors in 2016, up from 11.6 in 2015. An estimated 8 million came to Bahrain through Saudi borders.
The proposed causeway is likely to boost Bahrain’s tourism industry, Khalid Al-Rumaihi, CEO of the Bahrain Economic Board, told Arab News in an interview in February. “The causeway is a massive source of tourism, and it’s something we’d like to capture,” he said.
The current 25 km Saudi-Bahraini causeway was built in 1986 and named after King Fahd. The average daily traffic was 31,000 passengers in 2016 while the figure is expected to double by 2030, it was stated in the meeting.