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Sat 22 Mar 2008 04:00 AM

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Expansion plans for water projects

Saudi Arabia is set to expand the privatisation of its desalination and wastewater treatment sector to cover more cities in the country.

Saudi Arabia is set to expand the privatisation of its desalination and wastewater treatment sector to cover more cities in the country.

The move follows the creation of the National Water Company earlier this year to oversee the privatisation process, which aims to improve water services in Saudi Arabia and save dwindling supplies.

The company will initially target the privatisation of water projects in four cities, including Jeddah, Madinah and Riyadh.

"Within the next three years, we hope to cover most major cities in Saudi Arabia," said HE Loay Al-Musallam, head of privatisation team and deputy minister of planning and development, Ministry of Water & Electricity. "I'm confident that we can create a leading water utilities service in the region."

Al-Musallam added that desalination and wastewater treatment projects are implemented either as a build-operate-transfer (BOT) or private-public partnership (PPP).

"Having both schemes gives us the ability to attract different types of bidders. We issue a management contract for the distribution of water and wastewater collection, one for construction of the plant and another for the sales promotion.

"The way in which we have built these contracts gives us the confidence that our targets will be met in collaboration with the private sector."

The process of privatising Saudi Arabia's water projects began in November 2005, when a consortium of Saudi and Malaysian companies was awarded a US $2.4 billion (SR9.1 billion) contract to build the Shuaiba-3 desalination plant.

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