The Qatar Bahrain Causeway
Only days after MENA Infrastructure reported that the Qatar Bahrain Causeway could face greater delays due to protracted negotiations over its cost and design comes news that the bridge's builders, Vinci, haven't managed to agree a final contract for a $4.5 billion project casting the entire scheme into doubt.
Work on the Qatar Bahrain Causeway, which when finished will be the world's longest bridge, was meant to be start in the first quarter of this year with the project finishing in 2015, however relation between Qatar and Bahrain have suffered in recent weeks.
Last month, Qatari coastguards injured a Bahraini fishermen in a 'naval incident' and as a result, Bahrain retaliated by closing indefinitely the office of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera. Now the causeway project, also known ironically know as The Friendship Causeway, seems have to have stalled.
The incident has reignited a decades old dispute over Bahrain's control of the disputed Hawar Islands just off western Qatar. The International Court of Justice in 2001 awarded sovereignty of the islands to Bahrain.
It was hoped that the causeway would be beneficial both to Qatar and Bahrain, who is the smallest oil producer in the Gulf. With the causeway built, the entire Gulf is opened up to the state which is an archipelago. In comparison, Qatar is quite well off, with the world's third-largest gas reserves. It has been hinted at to certain news sources, that it is Qatar who causing the obstacles to the project's progress.
It has been theorised that this is due to Qatar's demands from Bahrain to pay high fees for use of the Hawar Island as it develops offshore energy resources.
Vinci, the world's largest builder who are based in France, originally won the contract in 2008 and had budgeted the project for US$3 billion. This has now risen to US$4.5 billion due to the addition of rail lines on the bridge. However with the relations between Bahrain and Qatar far from cordial at the moment, it is unknown when they will recommence work.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Vanessa Lattes, a Vinci spokeswoman, said, "We had hoped to start the project in 2010. The studies are finished and we are now working on all the technical and budgetary aspects."
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