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Bilal Transport quarry buy a ‘natural’ progression

UAE-based Bilal General Transport vertically expands aggregate haulage business into the supply side

Bilal Alibhai, CEO of Bilal General Transport.
Bilal Alibhai, CEO of Bilal General Transport.

UAE-based Bilal General Transport expanded upon its transport activities in mid-2015 by assuming the ownership of its own gabbro quarry operation near Hatta, guaranteeing the aggregate supply for its fleet of around 400 trucks.

Commenting on the move some six months down the line, Bilal Alibhai, CEO and executive director for the Bilal General Transport group, tells PMV Middle East: “We acquired the quarry because our customers said: ‘Hey, you do the transport – can you do the material as well?’

He continues: “As a standalone investment a quarry is good, because it has a long-term payback – and for us it’s a strategic backward integration. It’s a natural progression and also helps us to get contracts, because with a fixed source that you own, the client doesn’t have to worry about supply.”

This trend towards greater integration between aggregate supply and transport is already prevalent in Europe, and likewise makes sense for Bilal General Transport, which carries out aggregate supply on 80%-90% of its transport contracts.

Alibhai contrasts: “Probably less than 10 out of the 70, 80 or even 100 odd quarries in the UAE are professionally run. It has not been a very organised sector. You have some very big groups who invest a lot of money [into their operations], but that does not mean they are being professionally run.”

He singles out operations like those of Al-Futtaim and Stevin Rock as well-run, notable exceptions.

Indeed, last October two quarries in Fujairah and Ajman were closed down by the Ministry of Environment for violating the tolerable limits of dust emissions emitted by their quarrying and crushing operations.

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Construction Week - Issue 746
Jul 20, 2019