Conference preview: Leaders in Construction Oman
A glimpse into what to expect at our latest Oman construction summit
The GCC’s proposed $250bn rail network should help Sohar’s Port and Freezone to fulfil its considerable potential.
The proposed $250bn rail network, which will link all of the GCC’s countries as well as providing routes northwards towards the Levant, could facilitate further growth at $15bn Sohar Port and Freezone, according to its executive commercial manager, Edwin Lammers.
Lammers is one of the speakers at Construction Week’s Leaders in Oman 2014 summit, which is set to take place at the Grand Hyatt in Muscat on 15 October.
The first phase of works on Oman’s rail network, a detailed design carried out by Italian rail specialst Italferr, is already underway, and Lammers says the 2,244km-long route will prove to be a vital link to connect the port’s logistics with consumer markets in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“As this rail network grows, the value created by transporting cargo by rail will grow exponentially, and will power the national logistics market. This is already valued at $8bn. At the same time, rail links have the additional benefit of increasing efficiency and reliability, improving road traffic management, increasing transit volumes and cutting costs, and reducing the pressure placed on the environment.”
Oman’s logistics market is set to grow by 50% – to $12bn – by 2017, and Lammers is confident that Sohar can secure its fair share of this. Sohar has been developed through a 12-year partnership with operator The Port of Rotterdam, which remains as one of the world’s ten biggest ports.
Rotterdam is in the midst of an upgrade of its own rail infrastructure, and Lammers says its experience could prove to be pivotal in helping Sohar to develop its own from scratch. He said building such a network will require more than simply installing lines, and says Oman will need to develop new services and a skills base.
“More than 250 freight trains start and finish in Rotterdam every week and are expanding the port’s reach, creating new cargo flows and revenue streams. But a modern rail network takes more than the physical infrastructure and must be accompanied by customer-focused and efficient rail services and well thought-out coordination planning. This is where the unique experience we have in Sohar will be most important in the Gulf.
“Equally important will be the development of a skilled Omani labour force, complete with everything from train drivers, locomotive and railroad engineers, and station masters, to train dispatchers, foremen and signalmen.
There is no doubt that we will have to work hard to achieve this, but it will be worth it in the long run, with businesses and consumers ultimately paying less at the checkout.”
Lammers will be taking part in a panel debate at the Construction Week summit, which is sponsored by Drake & Scull, Godwin Austen Johnson, Hill International and Pinsent Masons.
For details on speaking opportunities at the event, contact conference producer Anam Hilal on +971 4 444 3116. For sponsorship opportunities, contact group sales manager Mark Palmer on +971 4 444 3398.