NTS promotes railroad and air transportation

JEDDAH — A workshop titled First National Transportation Strategy (NTS)-Issues and Challenges discussed the new strategy being drawn up by the Saudi ministry of transportation to reduce heavy reliance on motor vehicles as the principal means of transportation and promote the railroad and air transportation sectors as the other viable options.

By Our Correspondent

Published: Sun 25 Nov 2007, 8:28 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 11:22 PM

The workshop, held in the capital recently, was inaugurated by Minister of Transport Dr. Jabarra Al-Seraisry. It was organised in collaboration with GTZ of Germany, and attended by senior government officials from the ministries of transport, Haj, interior, municipal and rural affairs, as well as the traffic control department and Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA).

It was stressed that an integrated transportation strategy was in the national interest of the Kingdom, where one person gets killed in a traffic accident every hour and pollution levels peak, especially during the Haj season.

Al Seraisry said that the national transport strategy would underpin all future transport projects. He added that the workshop followed the completion of preliminary reports for the second stage of the strategy: problems and challenges.

He stressed the importance of exerting greater efforts towards integrated planning, development and operation as well as streamlining the performance of the transport sector, which was expected to play a crucial role in promoting Haj and Umrah traffic, besides domestic tourism.

He said the organisation of the workshop was in line with the recommendations of the Cabinet for formulating a national transportation strategy in cooperation with the relevant agencies.

He said that the workshop would map out a comprehensive strategy that would not only serve the interests of the society but also the national economy. Once it was finalised, it would be submitted to the Cabinet as a new tool for planning and as a means of opening up new investment channels.

Later, at a technical session on 'Infrastructure planning, development and financing,' undersecretary of the transport ministry for roads and head of the steering committee for the national transportation strategy Abdullah Al Muqbil, said that a contract had been signed with GTZ, the German agency, for the preparation of the second and third stages of the national transportation strategy.

He said the formulation of such a strategy would make it possible to confront the challenges in the transportation sector and tap new opportunities for realising the goals of attaining comprehensive development.

At another session on environmental protection, chaired by Ibrahim Al Sultan, vice-president (Projects and Planning Center), ADA, Thorben Prenzel of GTZ said the growing Haj and Umrah traffic had dictated the need for controlling the need for pollution, which shoots up during the Haj season. Other contributory factors were the location of gas stations near residential areas and junkyards, where plastic and other forms of hazardous waste material were responsible for toxic emissions. In the session on 'Passenger Transport' chaired by Deputy Minister of Transport Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Ohaly, Richard Meakin, also of GTZ, said heavy reliance on motor vehicles as the principal means of transport was the main factor behind traffic congestion, since 80 per cent of school children commuted to schools by their parents cars.

The participants in the workshop stressed the need for promoting greater reliance on the public transport system not only by students but also at the pilgrimage sites.

To this end, the mass transit system should be located near the airports and railroad stations, preventing private car owners from plying their own illegal transport business and creating traffic jams in the process. Operation of shuttle bus service during the Haj season and encouraging pedestrians to use the bus service were also suggested.

Among the other suggestions were: speeding up the construction of the land bridge for easing traffic congestion on roads, promoting air transportation, operating bus service from points close to the airports, creating a single entity for handling tourist traffic under the supervision of the Supreme Commission of Tourism for streamlining transportation to the tourist spots, which had been affected by poor transport facilities.

More news from Business