‘Kuwait focusing on infrastructure’ ‘Human resource development programs important’

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 12: “It must be kept in mind that all infrastructural projects must include human resource development programs to enable Kuwaitis to manage and run the facilities and services in these projects,” were the words of Kuwait’s Minister of Public Works, Dr Fadhel Safar Ali Safar as he delivered the keynote speech at a one-day Kuwait Transport Infr-astructure Summit held Tuesday at Hotel Missioni in Salmiya.

With Kuwait currently a year and a half into the 5-year development plan which seeks to diversify the country’s economy away from oil production thus transforming it into a regional trade and financial hub, transportation stakeholders came together to share information on ways to improve the transport infrastructure as an integral part of the development plan.

As a by-product of improving economic growth, the country is focusing on developing the transportation networks including ports and airports to encourage the development of the country into a centre for regional trade.

The summit held under the theme “Positioning Kuwait as a Regional Hub for Trade and Logistics through Developing an Integral Transport Infrastructure”, was attended by Government officials led by the Public Works Minister, Architects, Contractors as well as main consultants.

Dr Safar, in his keynote address stated that the construction of tangible infrastructural facilities is the backbone of economic and social development and the government teams up with private sector in the implementation of those policies and projects in the development plan and yet the country’s development has faced a lot of constraints due to its geopolitical position.

He added that Kuwait is surrounded by external regional factors and exceptional internal circumstances which affect accelerated development, noting that the summit was one of the many ways to overcome the development constraints.

He also stated that priority should be given to infrastructural projects which are considered the foundation of the pillars for development. “It must be kept in mind that all infrastructural projects must include human resource development programs to enable Kuwaitis to manage and run the facilities and services in these projects,” he stressed.

Professor Kim Jraiw, Project Manager, UN National & Integrated Transport Strategy 2010-2020 Kuwait, underscored the importance of transport as an important component of the wellbeing of human society when he spoke on the topic of aligning demands for transportation infrastructure with Kuwait’s 5-year development plan.

He listed some of the advantages of transport as enhanced competitiveness, productivity and economic growth, enhanced environmental sustainability, advanced national and international connectivity, enhanced productivity and so forth.

The professor also listed some problems associated with modern transportation networks that include greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world, high rates of accident fatalities in the developing world that keep increasing by the year. He also cautioned there could be a 3-4 fold rise in healthcare costs in Gulf countries by 2018 as a result of greenhouse gas emissions emanating from vehicular population increase as a by-product of speedy development.

Commenting on the Directorate General for Civil Aviation’s airport master plan involving major expansion works and a new passenger terminal, Eng Sami Al Hulaibi, project director at the DGCA said his organization is currently engaged in projects of the master plan as part of the overall contribution to what is a challenging objective.

DGCA is the government entity charged with the operation and expansion of Kuwait International Airport which is the main gateway to the country for visitors and a significant proportion of goods particularly those with high value.

Eng Miguel De Bernando, Project Manager of the Kuwait International Airport Master Plan Project and an official of INECO, the consulting firm tasked with operating and managing the country’s airport, said in the preamble of his speech that the forum had the general objective of presenting the initiatives taken to position Kuwait as the regional hub for trade and logistics through developing an integral transport infrastructure.

Among the projects in the airport master plan project are the replacements of the solid concrete runway with an asphalted one while also extending it southwards, movement of the aircraft maintenance area to a bigger facility to enable the construction of a bigger hanger so all maintenance will be done locally with no need for other airlines to move abroad for maintenance. Another essential component of the project is the construction of a tunnel for quick connection to the cargo area for fast processing of goods as well as the construction of a metro line connecting several areas of the city from the airport.

Under the new plan, all departments of the airport are to be concentrated at one point with the construction of a new control tower planned. The airport is to be divided into east and west wings with the east wing serving passengers and other related services while the west will be for cargo, aviation businesses, maintenance and other related services. There’d also be a new access road to the airport from the 7th ring road. The new runway as well as an extension of the existing one, relocation of the air force base and the general aviation area, Bernando revealed, would cost KD 2.3b.

Captain Tawfiq Shwab, Director of Marine Operations at Kuwait Ports Authority spoke on an exclusive case study outlining marine construction plans at the Boubyan Island Port, touching on ways to achieve capacity demands in the development of the port. Other speakers in the 8-hour long summit included Jeff De Lange, Deputy Managing Director of Gulf Consult, William Myles, Managing Director of Atkins-Kuwait, Eng. Faisal al Ajmi, General Manager, Kuwait Society of Engineers, Steve Potter, Urbanism Director, BDP MENA, Kevin Williamson, Associate Director -Rail Infrastructure of Atkins, Middle East as well as Dr. Mohammed Abdelkader, Advisor to Undersecretary, Ministry of Public Works, Kuwait.


By: Iddris Seidu Arab Times Staff

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