Registered vehicles in Bahrain have nearly doubled in nine years, with nearly half a million vehicles on the country's roads as of last month, said a senior government official. The 478,193 registered vehicles mean an average of two cars per household compared with 250,978 at the end of 2002, added Works Minister Essam Khalaf.
"While the car population is growing by an average of 7.34 percent every year, people's reliance on public transport remains as low as 5 percent of the total trips per day," Khalaf said during the International Road Federation's (IRF) third Middle East Regional Congress and Exhibition at the Gulf International Convention and Exhibition Centre. "We are now working to get more and more people to use public transport," Khalaf added. "Comprehensive studies have been undertaken to determine the potential of the public transport for the sustainable development of the transport infrastructure," he said.
Khalaf hoped that at least a quarter of motorists would shift from private to public transport once the Roads Strategic Master Plan is implemented and becomes fully operational by 2030. "The core of this strategy is to implement a comprehensive plan for the public transport infrastructure comprising Light Rail Transit, Mono Rail, Tramway and Bus Rapid Transit, for implementation in a phased manner." The event, being held under the patronage of Deputy Premier Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, ends today. It is organised by the ministry, in collaboration with Bahrain Society of Engineers and the IRF. Khalaf revealed that huge strides had already been made in implementing the master plan by starting major road projects to develop the infrastructure. "This will soon be completed, after which Bahrain will have two major motorways with uninterrupted traffic - from King Fahad Causeway entry point to Hidd Industrial Area and from Bahrain-Qatar Friendship Causeway entry point to the other causeway, connecting two major economies (Saudi Arabia and Qatar) in the region through Bahrain," Khalaf said.
The minister said the most advanced communication and computing technologies to improve the efficiency and safety of roads are being implemented. The plan also involves the use of an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) to enable real time monitoring and control of traffic for online surveillance of the road networks. "It involves deployment of ITS technologies along with all the strategic arterial road corridors. "These technologies include setting up a traffic control centre, installation of variable message signs, CCTV cameras, incident detection devices, variable lane controls and an emergency management system." Khalaf said the ministry has concluded comprehensive studies and is in the process of selecting contractors and suppliers for its implementation and management phase.
The ministry is also implementing a National Roads Safety Plan to reduce fatal accidents. "This aims at reducing traffic accidents and fatalities by 30 percent in the coming 10 years," added the minister. "This will be done in co-ordination with the General Directorate of Traffic and other concerned public and private agencies," Khalaf added. He said Bahrain must use its resources wisely and in a sustainable way to maintain its reputation as the financial hub of the Middle East and a leader in tourism, healthcare and education.
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