(MENAFN - Arab News) The Red Sea port city of Jeddah has been a global gateway to the holy city of Makkah for centuries and receives millions of visitors each year. With a population of over 3.5 million, its infrastructural development has not kept pace with the urban population boom.
In an effort to bridge the infrastructural gap, the Jeddah Urban Development plan is being implemented by the Jeddah Municipality as per the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdallah. It has resulted in a number of ongoing initiatives that are all focused on delivering the city's new vision. Indeed, the development of the city's infrastructure is now a top priority at the Jeddah Municipality.
The city has been witnessing several large-scale infrastructure projects in recent years. Sewage, flood and storm water projects were initiated to address core issues on the one hand, while mega infrastructure projects such as overpasses, underpasses and coastal waterfront projects were launched to enhance development on the other. The "Haramain" high-speed rail, for instance, adds further glory to the upcoming infrastructure of the city. These projects aim to cater to the needs of the city's residents in the next three decades.
Municipal Affairs Minister Prince Mansour bin Miteb himself is reviewing the ongoing projects in the city in a display of commitment toward the rapid development of the infrastructure of Jeddah as promised by King Abdallah.
Global giants Parsons, Huta and Sinopec are actively involved in the city's projects. In addition, a leading global expert is carrying out a comprehensive study of a transport system for the city.
The latest announcement of a contract being awarded to China's Sinopec for the construction of a kilometer-long overpass on Palestine Street at its intersection with Dallah Tower complex is another milestone in the city's ongoing projects.
The overpass starts from Dallah Tower complex and runs up to the Prince Miteb Street intersection.
Palestine Street sees bottlenecks, congestion and traffic breakdowns on a regular basis. The Palestine Street terminates at the prime entertainment and tourist district on the corniche near the King Fahd water fountain.
Sinopec, the company responsible for building the "Haramain" high-speed railway system, is also involved in the construction of several heavy projects with Saudi Aramco and SABIC. It has been awarded other projects of constructing overpasses on Macarona and King Fahd Street.
Another important project is currently being undertaken on one of the busiest roads of the city. The project at the Madina Road intersection with Sari Street is worth an estimated SR. 94 million and began in May 2010.
It was scheduled for completion on April 24, 2012. The contractor has blamed the delay of the project on the shifting of underground water pipelines. Only a few days are left for the completion of this project with an increased revised cost of SR 104 million.
Work on the "Al-Falak" roundabout is complete.
Residents often complain about a delay in completing projects and blame stakeholders for a failure to comply with deadlines. Project contractors say underground developments, mainly de-watering of construction sites is one of the major challenges they face. Shifting electrical wires and water pipelines and a lack of coordination among the agencies concerned are also to blame for the delay. Lack of sufficient and experienced personnel at contracting companies and obtaining employment visas to recruit work force also delay some of the projects.
In spite of the obstacles, one must appreciate and acknowledge the pace of development that is taking place in the city. Plans are afoot to improve and develop several other infrastructure projects in the coming year.