Duqm unscathed by Hikaa storm

Oman Wednesday 25/September/2019 21:53 PM
By: Times News Service

Duqm: Careful planning and timely action by the authorities ensured no lives were lost and damage was minimum when tropical storm Hikaa struck Duqm and its special economic zone.

Times of Oman sent a team to ground zero in Duqm to report on Hikaa and observe all precautionary measures taken by authorities to limit the loss of life and property. The damage was limited to a few cracked road signs and some small businesses in the wilayat.

“Some roads suffered cracks, but the damage has not been overwhelming,” according to a Royal Oman Police (ROP) spokesperson.

The spokesperson told Times of Oman: “The damage has been light. Banners have fallen here and there and a few cars were damaged by water, but there has not been any extensive damage.”

Following plans drawn up by the National Committee for Civil Defence (NCCD), the ROP worked in tandem with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Social Development to provide shelters for people across Al Wusta Governorate.

According to the NCCD, there were 745 people in these shelters on Tuesday, 24 September. In a statement, the Special Economic Zone in Duqm said that businesses in the area were safe.

Dr Ismail Al Balushi, the acting CEO of the Special Economic Zone Authority in Duqm (SEZAD), told Times of Oman: “After the news came that there would be a storm, SEZAD began three phases of safety. The first, before the storm, included meetings and awareness among the executives and the authorities, as well as coordinating with the office of the Wali.

“The second phase took place during the storm where multiple teams evacuated some people to predetermined locations. The third phase began this morning, where we go around the city and document the damage to projects.The damage in Duqm has been quite light,” he added.

“Many of our key investments and projects, such as the Duqm Refinery, the Port of Duqm and the Oman Dry Dock, as well as the airport, are safe. There were some small damages but the airport, the refinery, the port, and the dry docks are back in operation,” he added. “The roads are also safe as you can see here. There have been some damages to one internal road leading to some of the projects, and this one will be dealt with.”

According to Al Balushi, the special economic zone was built with safety in mind.

He said, “There were many positive results because of the planning of the area, which took these chances into account. For example, two dams were constructed to hold rain and on top of that, there were waterways put in place to divert the rain if the dams are flooded.

“The dams and the waterways are 90 per cent complete and because of that were able to contain the massive amount of rain, which reached 116 milimetres.”

Investors and managers in Duqm said that their businesses will continue operating, thanks to these precautions.

Pradeep Nair, the managing director of Little India in Duqm, told Times of Oman: “Everyone is safe and the projects are well. The damage was very small.”

Maher Bahsoun, the hotel manager of Crowne Plaza Duqm, told Times of Oman: “Our guest’s safety is our number one priority. Our team is trained and prepared to respond in situations like these, and we are happy that our guests as well as our colleagues are all safe at the hotel.

“With the recent events, rain water has repeatedly entered through the main lobby and then found its way back to the sea. Despite this disturbance, there is no major structural damage within the property. The hotel is operating normally and guests can still book rooms upon availability. However, our ballroom and meeting rooms will be closed for a period of time in order to replace the carpets damaged by the rain water.”

“The awareness efforts carried out by the teams led to the protection of the lives of residents and workers in the state,” he added.

In a statement, Oman’s National Committee for Civil Defence said that Hikaa had caused no casualties.

In addition, the NCCD said that a hundred per cent of hospitals, water services, fuel stations and sewage services were active. All of the roads were active as well, and the electricity grid was also working efficiently.

Trash collection services were fully operational, with only slight damages to some shelters and internet services.

NCCD’s operations to restore all of the governorate’s vital services returned to maximum efficiency had begun less than 24 hours after Hikaa had passed over Duqm.