Muscat: An agro-terminal, which will come up at the Port of Sohar, will add value to imported agricultural products for re-exports, said a top official of Port of Sohar.
This includes a sugar refinery, warehousing and the construction of silos for the Oman Strategic Food Reserve.
Andre Toet, chief executive officer of Port of Sohar said that currently, an old container terminal is being converted into an agro-terminal, which will support value addition of imported goods bound for re-exports.
He said the agro sector is the fourth pillar of the port, the others being metals, hydrocarbons and logistics, for which the port was originally established. While the port was focused on upstream activities and hydrocarbons, Port of Sohar is now aiming to increase its downstream activities by expanding the petrochemical complex and free zone near the port.
“We are trying to become a gateway port, not only for Oman, but for the entire region. This includes the GCC, but also India, Pakistan and Iran,” he said.
Speaking about innovation, Toet stressed that ease of business should be improved at his port. While the Port of Sohar has implemented a digital port management system and have been the first ones to use the Bayan customs system, he said he was “jealous” of some of the port’s competitors, like Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“Ease of business is what we need to become the logistics centre of the region. The first steps have been taken, but we’re not there yet,” he said.
Referring to focus on Omanisation, the Sohar port chief said that half of all staff working at Port of Sohar is Omanis.
“In the short period we have been operating in since 2004, we have created 9,000 jobs in the port. About half of those working in the port are Omani, while the other half is expatriates. For the freezone, 2,000 jobs were created and about half of those employees are Omani as well. As to job creation, Port of Sohar is doing well, above expectations,” he said.
Toet added that every job created inside the Port would create three jobs outside the port.
“If you look at how Sohar and its surrounding area has developed, and take into account this multiplying of jobs, it is extraordinary,” he said.
Toet said that other companies that have started to come up near the port, like service companies, hotels and schools, have also supported job creation for Omanis. He said that the ultimate goal of Port Sohar is to employ “as many Omanis as possible, with the right training and the right attitude”.