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Major overhaul for school, govt transport with new bus agreements

10 Mar 2024 Major overhaul for school, govt transport with new bus agreements By OUR CORRESPONDENT

Muscat – The Secretariat General of Tender Board and the Ministry of Education have embarked on a significant transportation enhancement project by signing agreements with Karwa Motors and Oman Development Bank to overhaul government and school bus fleets.

The number of buses will depend on the requirements of government agencies (ministries), as agreed upon by the Tender Board and Karwa Motors.

Another agreement will see replacement of 5,000 buses by the Ministry of Education (MoE), from 2024 to 2028, introducing a thousand new buses annually.

The agreements are part of a broader effort to meet the growing demand for public and school transportation, while also bolstering the local bus manufacturing industry.

The first phase of the replacement project, targeting school buses from 1980 to 1997, will commence this year, prioritising the oldest vehicles for replacement.

Oman Development Bank will provide interest-free financing to eligible bus owners, with conditions including a maximum loan amount of RO22,500 and an eight-year repayment period. Those who do not qualify for interest-free loans, a nominal interest rate of 3% will apply.

H E Majid bin Saeed al Bahri, Undersecretary for Administrative and Financial Affairs in MoE, highlighted the ministry’s role in this initiative. “It will facilitate  replacement of 1,000 school transport vehicles annually, ensuring these new buses meet stringent safety and security standards, including sensors, tracking devices and driver training programmes in partnership with specialised institutes like the Traffic Safety Institute of Royal Oman Police.”

Dr Ibrahim bin Ali al Balushi, CEO of Karwa Motors, noted the significance of these agreements in boosting the bus and vehicle manufacturing industry in the sultanate. The overhaul will upgrade the school transportation system with state-of-the-art safety features and technology and attract further investments for bus manufacturing to Special Economic Zone at Duqm, while fostering related small and medium projects.

This comprehensive approach to updating the transportation infrastructure represents a major step forward in ensuring safer, more efficient public and school transport systems.

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