Interview: Hussain Hassan Ali AbdulHussain
How is it possible to quantify the economic and environmental impact of the water reuse system?
HUSSAIN HASSAN ALI ABDULHUSSAIN: Our water reuse project was established with the objective of generating the maximum amount of treated effluent – recycled waste water – that can be used to benefit society. There will be an investment of over $2.6bn ($1.6bn for Muscat Governorate and $1 for other governorates) in waste water projects over the next decade, with the aim of supplying the proper infrastructure to help with water conservation and allow for the maximum use of treated effluent. Treated effluent is used to help sustain and create new green areas in Oman. This will help provide the opportunity for agricultural use in the future. Our project means that homes and businesses in the Muscat Governorate will have their existing septic tank system replaced with a more modern, piped waste water system, limiting dependence on fresh or desalinated water in the medium and long term. The whole sultanate will be connected to the system, which will reduce our overall reliance on energy-intensive desalination plants and contribute to environmental protection.
The scientific method which the treated effluent is produced makes it suitable to recycle into the environmental system safely either through soil injection or disposing it into the sea. The benefits to the environment are easy to measure, especially considering how important the environment is here, however, treated effluent’s use on a mass scale has long-term economic benefits through increasing the overall supply of water and decreasing the demand on potable water, of which there is a shortage everywhere in the region.
What more needs to be done to create an enabling environment for the private sector to participate in the waste water management sector?
ABDULHUSSAIN: Haya Water has developed a broad set of strategic initiatives and policy measures to develop small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including working closely with the Public Authority for SME Development and sponsoring their projects. We also exempt these businesses from vendor registration fees if they intend to do business with Haya.
So far in 2014, we have registered over 140 SMEs, who together have accounted for around 25% of the total order value this year. The company also provides tender documents free of cost to all SMEs participating in its tenders. Generally speaking, contractors of major projects have been instructed to allocate 10% of the value of their contracts to SMEs.
Accordingly, Haya Water has set a weightage of 10% in Tender Evaluation Criteria for the deployment of SMEs as subcontractors in all tenders for waste water treatment plants and waste water pipeline network projects. A memorandum of understanding was signed in July 2014 between Haya Water and Shell Intilaaqah for the development of young Omanis’ skills to help them establish their own businesses. Since then, we have allocated a variety of business opportunities to Intilaaqah graduates, such as residential drainage blockage cleaning, pest control, housekeeping, and transportation and distribution services.
How would you gauge the need for international expertise to address the challenges of constructing and maintaining the water reuse system?
ABDULHUSSAIN: The water reuse project is considered one of the largest and most complex civil engineering projects ever undertaken in Oman and will be the biggest single development of its kind in the region. The expertise of various local and international contractors is needed to undertake such a project. As our scope expands to cover all of Oman, we will seek to attract new contractors, and have seen several international companies bidding for our projects. Nowadays, most of our projects are internationally floated; therefore, we expect an increasing number of international contractors to bid for our projects. All in all, our contractors and business partners have proven to deliver the best civil engineering support in the market.
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