2004 News Story

Transport minister on rail project and port expansion

Speaking to reporters after signing a contract for development of the container terminal at King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam, Minister of Transport Dr. Jubarah Al-Suraiseri confirmed that privatization of seaports was part of the Kingdom's strategy, adding that currently, most port services are carried out by Saudi companies with the help of international firms. The new contract, signed last Thursday with a major international company, will double the port’s annual capacity from 0.75 to 1.5 million containers. In addition to the contract value of SR 461 million [U.S. $ 123.1 million], the company plans to invest SR 200 million [$ 53.4 million] and pledges to employ some 400 young Saudis.

At the press conference, Dr. Al-Seraisry announced that tenders for the railway expansion project will be invited as soon as a contract has been signed with the legal consultant with whom the Saudi Railway Organization (SRO) is negotiating. The Kingdom has already appointed a consortium comprising the National Commercial Bank and the Union Bank of Switzerland to provide financial advisory services for the project. The multibillion-dollar project involves linking Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah to the existing railroad between Riyadh and Dammam. Several international and national companies have expressed interest in participating in the projects. Due to their complexity, SRO expects consortiums to bid for them. According to SRO President Khaled Al-Yahya, the estimated cost is between SR 8 and 10 billion [U.S. $ 2.2 and 2.7 billion], and construction would take three years, with Saudi companies given priority.