Etihad Rail, the master developer and operator of the UAE’s national railway network, yesterday announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sharjah Cement Factory, a venture of Sharjah Cement & Industrial Development Company (SCIDC), marking the first prospective customer for Stage Three of the rail network. The agreement will see Sharjah Cement Factory use rail for the efficient transport of basic raw materials and cement to its customers throughout the UAE.
The MoU, signed by H.E. Dr. Nasser Saif Al-Mansoori, CEO of Etihad Rail, and Mr. Ahmad Abdalla Al Noman, Chairman of Sharjah Cement Factory, will facilitate the transport of more than five million metric tonnes (MT) of cargo per year – a volume that matches more than half of the factory's existing logistics needs. The agreement will offer Sharjah Cement Factory a logistics solution that will enhance its competitive advantage, reduce transport costs and improve efficiency through allowing the Company to use a mode of transport that is safer and more environmentally friendly than trucks.
Sharjah Cement Factory was the first venture set up by the Sharjah Cement & Industrial Development Company to help support the industries in the northern emirate. Since its inception 35 years ago, the factory now has the total installed capacity of clinker at 2.2 million MT per year and an annual cement grinding capacity of 4.27 million MT.
Commenting on the MoU, H.E. Dr. Al-Mansoori, CEO of Etihad Rail, said: “The agreement with Sharjah Cement Factory is of great significance as it marks Etihad Rail’s first customer for Stage Three of the strategic national rail project, which will contribute to the UAE’s economic growth. We are delighted to provide the local factory with a sustainable transport solution that will positively impact their customers and the UAE community, in line with UAE Vision 2021.”
Mr. Ahmad Abdalla Al Noman, Chairman of Sharjah Cement Factory, added: “As a local building materials manufacturer, an efficient distribution system is critical for our competitive growth. Rail is globally preferred as a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly mode of transport for cement than trucks, and we look forward to using the Etihad Rail network to further enhance the efficiency of our distribution system to our customers.”
Today’s signing with Sharjah Cement Factory marks Etihad Rail’s first prospective customer for Stage Three, with an impressive list of customers Stage Two already secured. The company recently signed MoUs with HOYER Global Transport, who will use the railway for the transport of liquid bulk, and DHL, who will use the railway network to meet its customers’ growing logistical needs. Etihad Rail has also signed agreements with other customers across a range of industries including Al Dahra, Emirates Steel, Arkan, Etisalat and du. While Al Dahra will use rail to transport hay, Emirates Steel and Arkan plan to transport their raw and finished materials via the railway, and du and Etisalat will benefit from access to the network’s infrastructure to expand their growing network and customer base.
Upon completion, the Etihad Rail network – which will cater to both freight and passengers – will span a total of 1,200 km across the Emirates. It will connect urban and remote communities, facilitate trade, open up communication channels and foster economic development. The network will also form a vital part of the GCC Railway Network – linking the UAE to Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the west and Oman via Al Ain in the east.
Construction work on Stage One, which links Shah and Habshan to Ruwais, is well advanced, and the tendering process is already in progress for Stage Two, which will connect the railway to Mussafah, the Gulf ports of Khalifa and Jebel Ali, and the Saudi and Omani borders. Preliminary engineering for Stage Three, which will connect the rest of the Northern Emirates, is also well underway.