Oman Rail is boon for business, says shipping industry

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Oman’s plans for a $15.5bn railway network across the Sultanate will be a boon to business in the region – opening up and attracting more opportunities, the shipping industry’s peak group told English daily The Times of Oman.

The proposed 2,244km railway is part of a regional railway network expected to link the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

The Omani government has committed to funding at least the infrastructure works in a project estimated to cost up to $15.5bn.

"The Ministry of Transport and Communications has said that it will begin the work on the $15.5bn railway network from the last quarter of 2014," Abraham Raju, spokesman for the shipping agents' group in Oman, told the Times.

“From that point onwards, we are expecting huge business opportunities in this sector. We will be able to derive benefit during the construction phase and later, too.”

He added: “During the construction phase, we would be able to play a vital role in bringing in goods and materials, which will result in increased business for shipping agents. Once the rail network is established, it will help us a lot. We will be able to do our business in a better and less time-consuming fashion.”

A section of the railway is expected to become operational by 2018. In the newspaper report, Raju sought to downplay the global downturn in the shipping industry, which is recording its fifth straight year of slowdown.

"Regional crisis, value of the dollar and other external factors are certainly there in the present scenario, but these things are not affecting us; we are doing well," he was quoted as saying.

August statistics quoted by the newspaper showed a five percent increase in total cargo handled at Sultan Qaboos Port to July this year compared to the same period in 2012. Salalah Port registered a 12 percent rise.

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