Bahrain-Saudi causeway revamp on target
Manama , December 25, 2010
A major project which includes establishing green spaces and renovating facilities at the customs and passports zones both on the Bahraini and Saudi sides on King Fahad Causeway is set to be completed by April.
The beautification work comes as part of an expansion scheme that was introduced during Ramadan last year. The project involved increasing the number of departure lanes from 10 to 17 and the number of arrival lanes from 13 to 18 on both sides of the border.
Causeway authority general manager Bader Abdulla Al Otaishan said work on the project was already underway and would cost around BD4 million ($10.6 million).
"The project is going on at the causeway on both sides to ensure it is complete by the first quarter of next year," he said. He revealed it involved setting up outdoor shades at customs and passports zones on both sides of the causeway.
"The shades have already been set up on the Saudi side of the causeway," he said. "Shades at the customs zone on the Bahraini side are left to be completed."
Revamping public toilet facilities is also part of the renovation scheme and includes building new toilets on both sides to serve travellers.
"We are working on renovating toilets and expanding some of them to better serve travellers," said Al Otaishan. "We are also looking into building a new toilet facility between the Saudi and Bahraini border on each side of the causeway."
A commercial centre on the Bahrain side of the bridge is also set to be completed within six months. Costing around BD800,000, it will feature a number of restaurants, coffee shops, a grocery shop, telephone stalls and a travel store. A health centre is also being built on the Bahraini side to serve travellers and causeway staff.
The Saudi side will have a similar health centre established early next year, added Mr Al Otaishan.
The total cost of the centres is estimated to be around BD700,000.
It comes after the opening of a dedicated lane for students and people with special needs.
A total of 1,750 special identity cards have already been issued to allow usage of the lane, which replaces the old one in both directions.
The overall causeway expansion project, believed to cost more than BD6 million, is part of a broader project to dramatically increase the number of lanes. An anticipated surge in the amount of two-way traffic means authorities are now drawing up a long-term strategy to cope with the rush.
A BD98,000 study is being carried out to help causeway authorities plan for significant increases in commercial and passenger traffic by 2020.
It is due to be completed in two months, according to Saudi Finance Ministry Customs Division general manager Saleh Al Khlewi.
The causeway opened in November 1986 and traffic has increased from 5,000 to 10,000 vehicles a day to around 45,000 on regular days and up to 60,000 at weekends, he said. – TradeArabia News Service