After years of waiting, the Kuwaiti government is set to start work on the US$2.6.bn project to build a 36km causeway to connect the southern Shuwaikh port with the north of the country.
One of a raft of projects approved by the ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, in 2010, political wrangling and weighty bureaucracy led to lengthy stalling of the building-work. But the government recently signed a contract with South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co to design and build the causeway within the next five years, starting later this year.
Currently freight trucks have been forced to navigate dusty roads full of potholes as they go in and out of Kuwait’s busiest port, enduring traffic jams as they go into surrounding streets.
The new causeway will make for easier access to and from the port, improving the underdeveloped infrastructure which have hindered trade and industry.
It is also hoped the causeway will help improve the neglected north, where an urban area called Silk City is planned. Named in reference to the Silk Road trade route, the new city will be part of a trade hub near a planned new port called Mubarak al-Kabeer. Silk City could eventually accommodate 530,000, which equated to 14 percent of the country’s current population.
The causeway was one of several development projects announced three years ago to the value of KWD30bn (US$107bn), all of which aimed to diversify the economy of the oil-rich nation. Other projects included the Az Zour gas-fired power and seawater treatment plant, a new airport terminal, an oil refinery, a metro system, and hospitals.
The Az Zour project also looks to have been revived, as Kuwait signed a deal last month with a consortium led by France’s GDF-Suez, and including Sumitomo Corp of Japan, to build the plant which is plant to start running in 2015.
The plant is expected to account for twelve percent of Kuwait’s power generation capacity and a quarter of desalination capacity.