As preliminary work commences on the landmark Hafeet Rail project, connecting Abu Dhabi in the UAE with Suhar on the Sea of Oman coast, local contractors are now keenly eyeing advisory and construction opportunities linked to the establishment of freight yards and depots at key locations on the Oman side of the network.

The partnership of Trojan Construction Group (NPC) of the UAE and Galfar Engineering & Contracting of Oman is currently undertaking the main civil works of the 303km rail network at an estimated cost of $1.4 billion.

But up for grabs is a tender for the design and construction of, among other components, facilities for the handling of freight, and marshalling and maintenance yards. Collectively part of the ‘I2’ tender floated by Hafeet Rail (formerly Oman-Etihad Rail Company), these facilities are planned to be established at Al Buraimi and Suhar.

Envisaged at Al Buraimi is a yard featuring, among other things, offices for customs, a light maintenance workshop, refueling point, signaling and maintenance facilities and other amenities.

However, the majority of the facilities outlined in the tender are planned to come up at Suhar. The biggest of these is the Suhar Depot & Marshalling Yard, hosting a series of maintenance workshops for paintwork, underfloor wheel lathe work, storage, and so on.

Also at Suhar, Hafeet Rail has called for the construction of a specialized yard for the handling of aggregates. In addition to a customs office and administrative block, it will also feature various kinds of utilities.

Closer to Sohar Port and Freezone is envisioned a main freight yard catering to the handling of containers. The complex will also host workshops for maintenance, customs and admin offices and other utilities.

In line with the collaborative nature of the project’s overall delivery, companies from both the UAE and Oman are forming partnerships and alliances to bid for the I2 tender.

Total investment in the Hafeet Rail project is estimated at $3 billion. Besides strengthening the positioning of Oman and the UAE as regional logistics hubs, the rail link will also unlock immense opportunities for investment, SME development and job creation commensurate with the operation and maintenance of a rail industry and its indirect spinoffs in the form of trade, commerce and logistics growth.


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