Authorities overseeing the development of a major logistics area in South Al Batinah Governorate are reporting strong interest from bidders in a contract to operate Oman’s first ever ‘dry port’ planned within this hub. A request for Expressions of Interest (EoI) floated by the South Al Batinah Logistics Area (SABLA) last week has already begun to elicit significant interest from local and international companies.
“A successful bidder is expected to be awarded a licence for the lease and operation of this inland port facility during this year,” said Ahmed bin Said al Azkawi, Project Manager, in comments to the Observer.
SONY DSCA Steering Committee made up of top officials representing a number of government ministries and regulatory agencies is spearheading the implementation of the Logistics Area project.
The high-powered panel is chaired by Ahmed bin Hassan al Dheeb, Chairman of the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates ( PEIE ), and includes Talal bin Suleiman al Rahbi, Deputy Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Planning; Brigadier Issa bin Saeed al Kiyumi, Director-General of Customs — ROP; Mubarak bin Sulaiman al Mundhri, Director-General of investment, Ministry of Finance; Mohammed bin Khalifa al Ghassani, Assistant Director-General of Ports, Ministry of Transport and Communications; Hamoud bin Salim al Saadi, Chairman of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) branch in South Batinah, Musallam bin Mohammed al Shahri, Assistant Chief Operating Officer of PEIE , and Ahmed bin Said al Azkawi, Project Manager — South Batinah Logistics Hub.
The ambitious initiative, covering a 95 sq km site at the intersection of the Barka-Nakhl and Muscat-Batinah Expressway, is expected to play a pivotal role in positioning the Sultanate as a logistics gateway serving the wider Gulf and Middle East region. Equally, it will go a long way in addressing the need for modern logistics infrastructure and services in the Sultanate.
Longer term, the SABLA project is expected to catalyse the growth of a new urban development that in turn will fuel non-oil economic investment and employment generation.
A master plan envisages dedicated areas for logistics, commercial activities, light industrial, residential and supporting services within SABLA. Holding pride of place within the project area is a full-service Dry Port designed to serve as a midway location for shippers to receive and deliver their cargo originating from or bound for Sohar Port.
“With customs bonded services, ample capacity, and eventual connectivity with the Muscat-Batinah Expressway and GCC rail, the Dry Port will be ideally positioned to serve the needs of shippers and logistics service providers,” according to the Project Manager.
The Steering Committee is closely overseeing the progress made in developing the first phase of the project. Envisaged in this phase is the provision of primary and secondary road networks within the site, utilities, preparation of pad sites to be developed for logistics centres and distribution space under ground lease or build-to-suite contracts.
The initial phase will also include facilities for supporting services including truck service centres, restaurants, office space, administration buildings, and the Dry Port.
Recently, the Committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oman International Exhibition Centre (OIEC) for the establishment of an integrated centre complete with display areas that investors in the Logistics Area can use to showcase their goods and services to their respective target audiences. The Integrated Centre will include showrooms, offices, shops, open display areas, and service offices and shops, facilities for the landing, loading and storage of goods, reception areas, and public parking.
Notable headway has also been made in plans for the implementation of the Dry Port, according to Al Azkawi, with the next milestone being the selection of a qualified party for the operation and management of the facility.
Expressions of Interest (EoI) are due in by February 15, 2015. Interested bidders can refer to the website: www.peie.om for information.
At full build out, the Dry Port will cover an area of approximately 120 hectares.
Included in the master plan is an eventual in termodal rail transfer area once the GCC railway line is completed, areas for administrative functions, customer service, and government services including customs.