H.E. Falah Mohamed Al Ahbabi, UPC General Manager, and Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Chairman, ADPC, after signing the official handover contract of Musaffah Channel from UPC to ADPC at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on February 1st.
Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) has completed the construction of the 53 Kms long Musaffah channel project, and handed it over to ADPC (Abu Dhabi Ports Company).
UPC commissioned the construction of the new Musaffah Channel to provide a safe navigation access channel with increased air draft (water depth) to service the Musaffah Industrial Zone and future ICAD areas. The completed project was today handed over by the UPC to ADPC for operational use at a ceremony attended by Abu Dhabi government officials, VIPs, invited guests and member of the press.
The Musaffah Channel is located just off the south-western shoreline of Hudayriat Island, immediately to the west of the Musaffah Industrial Area, and leads to the open sea. The project has now replaced the existing access channel to Musaffah Industrial Area and smaller ships only will be using the “old” channel in the near future.
“The completion of the Musaffah Channel Project is a major milestone in the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 implementation process, as the Government continues to invest in vital infrastructure enhancement projects designed to support the growth of our Emirate’s economic development ”, said H.E Falah Al Ahbabi, General Manager, UPC.
“The increased depth of the new channel will provide greater economic opportunities to the existing Musaffah Industrial Zone by allowing a significant expansion of operations and penetration into the global markets, which will in turn have a positive impact on Abu Dhabi’s economy”, added Al Ahbabi.
The new channel, developed at an investment of AED 1.5 billion required dredging a volume of 65 million cubic metres. The maximum depth is 9 metres and the minimum width is 200 metres. The channel dimensions allow for two way vessel traffic of large bulk carriers. The UPC engaged National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) to undertake the dredging works. NMDC utilised up to seven of their heavy duty cutter suction dredgers (HDCSD) and two trailing suction hopper dredgers (TSHD) to meet the high production rates required to complete the works.
The completed channel project was officially handed over to the ADPC for operations at a ceremony which witnessed the presence of H.E Falah Al Ahbabi and H.E Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Chairman, ADPC. Senior representatives from Mubadala, ZonesCorp, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) also attended the event.
CEO of ADPC Tony Douglas said: “The opening of the New Channel and its handover for our safekeeping is a proud moment not only for ADPC but for Abu Dhabi Emirate, too. The New Channel is certain to make a big difference to the competitiveness of industry in Abu Dhabi, facilitating imports and exports. It will play a large part in our portfolio of commercial operations, which includes Mina Zayed, as well as Khalifa Port, phase one of which will open in Q4, 2012 “.
Environmental considerations were paramount for the project as the channel passes through the Bul Sayeef Marine Protected Area, significant for its seagrass community and thriving marine habitat including dugongs. An Environmental Impact Assessment was completed by UPC for the project in accordance with regulatory requirements. Impacts to valuable habitat including extensive seagrass beds were minimised amongst others by using silt curtains to avoid unnecessary dispersion of dredged material. Dredged material was used for land reclamation purposes in Habitat Island. The island – designed to encourage the growth of mangroves and coral – already attracts large pods of dolphins, birds and marine life around and within the secluded lagoon, shaped like a heart. Because it is so close to Abu Dhabi, it is envisaged the island will be used for continued environmental study, monitoring and educational purposes.
“Working in harmony with our environment to improve every facet of life in Abu Dhabi is a key precondition of our remit as the urban planning authority. Leveraging our natural habitat is the key to unlock Abu Dhabi’s vast potential and diversify the Emirate’s economy”, concluded Al Ahbabi.