Beyond mega-projects: Roadworks are relaunched to reduce congestion


While the King Hamad Causeway is the most high-profile road transport project under development in Bahrain, the government is also moving to invest heavily in its domestic road network, with work set to resume on upgrades that had been stalled for years. Easing congestion and improving logistics networks are high priorities for Bahraini stakeholders, which should see investment in this segment trend upwards in the coming years.

Steady Progress

In June 2019 Bahrain’s Northern Municipal Council announced that work on $80m worth of road and motorway projects, originally scheduled to begin in 2014, would commence before the end of the year. These roadworks, which are focused on the kingdom’s Budaiya and Janabiya motorways, are being financed by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. The commitment is part of a larger $10bn grant from the GCC, announced in June 2018 and disbursed in December of the same year. Ahmed Al Kooheji, chairman of the Northern Municipal Council, told local media that both motorways would be upgraded to have three lanes in each direction. Related projects, including new rainwater channels on Janabiya Highway, lighting upgrades, the addition of new intersections and exits to nearby villages, and beautification works are also planned, according to regional media.

Easing congestion and improving logistics networks are high priorities, and should see investment trend upwards in the coming years A network of side roads to serve more remote neighbourhoods is similarly in the planning stages, and government planners have been undertaking a study to explore the possibility of connecting the Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway to Saar Avenue.

Researchers will also study alternative routes for traffic circulating through the Al Hajar, Shakhura, Abu Saiba and Maqaba villages. According to local media, project work will commence after new sewage networks have been constructed and ground cables relocated, and Al Kooheji has said the study is expected to finish before 2020.

Road Focus

The works come as Bahrain seeks to upgrade and modernise its road network under an expansive infrastructure development agenda that emphasises enhancing domestic and international road links, as well as creating new parking spaces.

Research firm CEIC reports vehicle sales in Bahrain rose from 25,000 in 2007 to 35,962 in 2018, and there were 700,000 vehicles in circulation as of 2016. This equates to roughly one vehicle for every two people based on a population of 1.49m in 2017.

With traffic and congestion rising, stakeholders are moving to ensure development of supporting infrastructure for new roads projects. In August 2019, for example, the Ministry of Works, Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning (MWMAUP) announced plans to construct new parking spaces near schools and mosques, as well as speed bumps across the Northern Governorate’s 10th constituency, in a bid to reduce congestion and improve road safety.

Road Upgrade Progress

The MWMAUP is also currently undertaking a major redevelopment plan for the kingdom’s older road networks. The project entails constructing new streets and organising intersections between B roads, with works planned for areas including Avenue 41 between roads 4109 and 4103, and on a new street leading to road 4013.

Work on the Halat Bu Maher development project in Muharraq has progressed on schedule, and was expected to wrap up in July 2019. In addition, the project to widen Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Highway to improve traffic flow has been progressing well, with its first phase expected to be completed in 2020.