Muscat: A major transportation hub that will provide easier and faster transportation links between Muscat International Airport and the rest of the country is going to be set up, making the commute between the capital and the rest of the country easier.
The Burj Al Sahwa bus station and taxi stand, which is just a 15-minute drive from the airport, is being given a complete overhaul, as the government moves to provide better transport connections to people travelling both in Muscat and to other cities in the Sultanate.
As part of this overhaul, Omani nationals as well as foreigners who travel to Muscat from other parts of the country will be able to rest in air-conditioned facilities when they arrive in the capital, enjoying a host of facilities before they move to their allocated taxi stand, or to a separate zone designated for intra-city buses, to continue their journey.
These efforts to convert the Burj Al Sahwa station are being spearheaded by Asyad, also known as Oman Global Logistics Group, which has put out tenders for companies that wish to bid for the construction of this new transport hub.
Work on the station is expected to begin by mid-2020.
“The station will include providing services for land-based public transport companies, taxi drivers, and different services for citizens and residents,” an Asyad spokesperson said. “It will also contribute to lowering the amount of traffic and make it easier to enter and exit the area.”
He added: “The station will include different parking spots for inter and intra-city buses, special lanes for taxis, a fully operational, air-conditioned station for bus services, offices for public transport operators, as well as car-rental offices and ticket offices and information desks.”
Spanning a total area of 42,000 square metres, the new hub will feature facilities that set it apart from other transport facilities in the country, and will be the gold standard for such stations in the Sultanate. Customers will also be able to pay for their tickets electronically, should they wish to.
“The 42,000 square metre project will be designed according to global standards in partnership with the private sector,” the Asyad spokesperson added. “The station will be an important supporter of the public transport sector in Oman because it is a connection point between Muscat and other governorates, as well as a place for passengers passing through to other governorates after travelling through Muscat International Airport.”
“Customers will have access to areas to buy tickets electronically, which makes it easy for them to pre-book their tickets,” said the Asyad spokesperson. “There will also be tourist facilities and retail stories and other services for people passing through the station, where they will also be able to park their vehicles if they are driving for part of the journey and then taking public transport.”
The station will also provide easy access to people with disabilities, so that everyone is able to have a hassle-free experience. It has been designed so that people can stay comfortably at the station, for as long as they need to be there.
“In addition to the air conditioning, there will be a mosque and vending machines for food and drinks, as well as a food court and a currency exchange office,” the spokesperson added. “The station will have features to be friendlier for people with disabilities, and it will have smart features such as digital display screens for the station and the timings for incoming or departing buses, as well as prices for the tickets for these buses.
The company added, “The station will be based on global standards of safety and security, including fire-safety features and monitoring and alarm devices in order to protect people using the station.”
Transport drivers in Oman welcomed the move, but said that they hoped that the station also keeps independent taxi drivers in mind. Suroor Al Handasi, a taxi driver in Oman, said “This project will naturally help present a better image of Oman to visitors and residents, but I hope it will also benefit us as well as the larger companies operating in Oman.”
Adnan Al Salhi, another taxi driver, said, “I am happy that the area will be developed to include better facilities and waiting areas. We have to keep in mind that most parking areas are mostly used by public transport more than taxis, and so having a place where buses will be there at Burj Al Sahwa means more competition between buses and taxis, but also more facilities for people.”
Passengers said the move might be good for them if the facilities are good enough, which would allow them to spend more time around Burj Al Sahwa.
Fahad Al Harthy, who commutes from Sohar to Muscat regularly, said, “Now-a-days, I try to time my trips so that I spend as little time outside the cars as possible. If there are food courts and other facilities, it might become a place where I can feel comfortable waiting or even try to find the best prices for my commute.”