Muscat: For the first time since Cyclone Mekunu struck Dhofar, officials in the governorate have outlined the damage and restoration work as a result of its impact on the telecom, transport, oil & gas and electricity sectors.
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Salalah continues to remain cut-off from Muscat by road, with the Thumrait-Nizwa highway currently inaccessible, according to authorities.
In an exclusive interview to the Times of Oman, Colonel Ali Ba Sadiq, Vice-Chairman of the Sub-committee for Civil Defence, said, “Salalah is cut off from Muscat via the main Thumrait-Nizwa road, which passes through wilayat Muqshin, which has turned into a lake as a result of high water levels.”
Sadiq added, “A number of people are still in shelters, while others have returned to their homes. The shelters will remain open until water and all basic services are fully restored. At the other sites, efforts are still being made to remove debris and to cater to the water and food needs of all, in cooperation with the army, police and municipal carriers. Everyone is working hand-in-hand to make the lives of residents easier.”
He added: “To deliver relief to these areas, the Royal Air Force of Oman has equipped aircraft with large loads of cargo to transport supplies and patients, and generators to operate water plants.”
“As for the eastern side of the governorate, roads are better and most of them are open; work to remove debris from the road, such as rocks and dust, still continues, and it will be repaired as soon as possible,” Sadiq added.
He also said: “At the rest of the sites, efforts are still being made by everyone to repair the damage and to solve the water and food needs in cooperation with the army, police and municipal carriers.”
Eng. Hasan Al Ajmi, Corporate Risk & Group Business Continuity Manager at Nama Group, said, “So far, we have restored electricity services in 38 areas and work is underway to bring electricity back to the wilayats of Rakhyut, Dhalkut, Sadah, and Mirbat.”
In a statement, the Ministry of Oil and Gas announced, “Some 84 per cent of the petrol stations were reopened from a total of 61 stations in the governorate.”
Meanwhile, a total of 363 telecom stations were affected by the storm, according to the Information Technology Authority (ITA).
“In the telecommunications sector, the total number of affected telecom stations reached 363. In the past 24 hours, more than 121 stations were restarted, whereas 242 stations remained affected,” Majid Al Baluchi from ITA said in a statement. “Local roaming was activated so that all subscribers could stay connected wherever they are.”
Mahmoud Al Saqri, representative of basic service sectors at the National Committee for Civil Defense, said, “The water sector is currently dealing with four fractures to its main water lines. The Salalah-Wadi Salalah and the Salalah-Raysut lines are, however, operational. The water fractures are currently being fixed and it is hoped it will be completed soon.”
Eng. Awad Al Sudairi, a representative of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, said, “As for the transport sector, some roads have been opened for traffic. The damaged roads, on the other hand, are undergoing repairs and will be open to traffic as soon as possible.”
The Governorate of Dhofar is on its way to returning to normal, as teams work day and night to fix roads, repair damage, and provide food and water to residents.
“Since Sunday, efforts have been underway to fix the Al Mughsayl-Dhalkut road and reopen the way towards the western parts of Dhofar, which has been completely cut off since the cyclone,” he said.
“We hope that work to fix the road will be completed today.”
To meet people’s water needs in the immediate aftermath of Mekunu, the National Committee for Civil Defence is also inviting the owners of water tanks filled with potable water in Dhofar Governorate to proceed urgently to Salalah to provide supplies to those in areas cut off by wadis and other natural hazards.
“The appeal is general because the areas that have been cut off are very large and many have been communicating with us asking for these supplies,” Sadiq added.
“We hope that everyone will benefit from this experience in the Dhofar Governorate and appreciate the cooperation of the citizens, along with the calls of the police to get out of low areas to the quartering areas, which contributed to the preservation of lives and reduction in losses.”