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On fast track

Oman Rail is all set to award multifunctional consultancy for the construction of the much-awaited line stringing together several urban and industrial growth centres of the Sultanate. The 2,135km rail network that is expected to be a catalyst for the nation’s economic growth will get a firmer shape in a month’s time once the consultancy tender is awarded. The definite progress of the Sultanate has been acknowledged by the governments of the region. At a regional Middle East rail event the remarks of Oman Rail general manager for projects Nathan Wiles were well received when he said, “We are in the process of evaluating those tenders (and) in a relatively short period of time, we should be able to declare (winners).” The Sultanate’s comprehensive approach for a total solution to the nation’s transportation needs is reflected in the search for multifunctional consultants as Wiles explained. The multifunctional approach is because the nation is not looking at developing the railways in isolation, but “we want to develop the terminal ends as well” for a complete railway solution. “We will shortlist three consultants and then we will call them as and when we need them throughout the next two years,” he added. The Sultanate’s success in developing ‘fit for the purpose’ rail standards even before the GCC rail standard has been formulated reflects the nation’s purposefulness in laying a world-class railway network. The nation will be going in for a purpose-built track that would cater to the nation’s industrial surge as well as passenger convenience.

The Sultanate’s government has understood long back that a nation of this size requires a good transportation network for a smooth ride to prosperity. The Oman Global Logistics Group, the parent company of Oman Rail, is keen on connecting the network with the GCC Rail at Al Buraimi in the east and Khatmat Malihah in the north. There is also a long-term plan to link up to Yemen in the south. As the second largest nation in the GCC, we definitely need the rail connectivity for taking progress to all parts of the nation. Salalah is more than a 1,000km from Muscat and the railway will be the most efficient means of transportation to move freight and passengers between the two important growth centres. The Sultanate has put right emphasis on the network that would connect all major centres of interest for manufacturing, mining, tourism and logistic hubs. A decree of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said declaring the second phase of development of Oman Rail a public utility came well in time. The Duqm port has already signed MoU with Oman Rail for a freight corridor that would connect it to different parts of the nation. The second phase of Oman Rail will connect Hafait in Al Buraimi Governorate with Fahoud in Dhahirah Governorate. The decree empowered the departments concerned “to expropriate, through direct implementation, the properties and lands necessary” for the project. It is gratifying that the Sultanate is going ahead with the planning and implementation of rail corridors without which the nation will not be able to draw full benefits of Oman Rail. The linkup ensures that the project will become viable without difficulty.