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Right track

Oman Rail has floated tender for acquiring land for the Haima-Thumrait stretch of the ambitious railway network. It marks a major step in realising the nation’s dream of getting a huge infrastructural boost. It was only last month that a Royal Decree declared the Haima-Thumrait sector as a public utility project setting the stage for land acquisition. Asyad (Oman Global Logistics Group) is proceeding with implementing the project with appreciable efficiency. One of the key stretches of Oman Rail will be built with private sector participation. Asyad CEO Abdulrahman Al Hatmi recently revealed that discussions are on with a major private player for building a 1-billion rial railway line connecting Shuwaymiyah and Manji to Duqm port for transporting minerals. The railway line with a total length of 350km will transport limestone from Manji and gypsum from Shuwaymiyah to Duqm. There is reasonable certainty that this rail corridor will be the first one to be built as part of the Sultanate’s national rail network. Asyad is undergoing a restructuring which is expected to vastly improve Asyad’s efficiency. As it has been recognised the world over, railway is the most efficient land transportation tool and helps accelerate and sustain economic growth. Sultanate’s push for diversifying the economy away from hydrocarbons needs massive infrastructural spending. The railway network is being developed as part of the National Logistics Survey, which is expected to raise contribution of the logistics sector to the gross domestic product to 14 billion rials by 2040. This is definitely achievable considering the huge untapped mineral resources in the Sultanate. Another major step aimed at making the nation an international logistics hub is the government’s proposal to join the Transports Internationaux Routiers (ITR). Being a signatory of the body will allow easier cross border freight transportation. The Sultanate’s GDP also stand to gain considerably from the national railway network, as the government understood long back. The nation of this size – being the second largest in the Gulf Cooperation Council – requires an integrated network for its smooth ride to prosperity.

The dream of a railway network covering the Sultanate has progressed much on the path of becoming a reality as Oman Rail has floated tenders for appointing international consultants for implementing the project for 2,135km network. Asyad is seeking consultants for operation and maintenance, infrastructure, rolling stock, management, a mass rapid transit system for Muscat, and services covering a whole lot of activities connected to ports and mines. The authorities are going ahead with the project at a fast clip as indicated by a tight schedule. The project is expected to connect with the GCC Rail at Al Buraimi in the east and Khatamat Malaha in the north. There is also a long-term plan to link up to Yemen in the south. The resolve of the Sultanate to steadily go ahead with the project that matters for the nation’s prosperity is evident from the decision to float tenders. As the second largest nation in the GCC, we definitely need the rail connectivity for taking progress to all parts. Salalah is more than a 1,000km from Muscat and railway will be the most efficient means of transportation to move freight in bulk and passengers between the two important growth centres.