In initial unaudited and unapproved financials published on Thursday, the port announced that container traffic rose to 3.325 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) last year, up from 2.569 million TEUs in 2015.
The spike reverses a downtrend in volumes handled at the port’s Container Terminal. Container throughput slumped 15 per cent to 2.57 million TEUs in 2015 versus figures for 2014, a decline attributed to consolidation in the liner business.
On the other hand, general cargo volumes, which have been growing exponentially over the past several years thanks to burgeoning mineral-based exports, posted a modest 3.9 per cent increase in 2016. General cargo traffic rose to 13.037 million tonnes in 2016, up from 12.543 million tonnes in 2015, which in turn soared a robust 30 per cent over corresponding figures for 2014.
Gross revenues for the year also rose an 11.1 per cent to RO 54.997 million, up from RO 49.508 million in 2015. Total expenditure correspondingly grew 11.2 per cent to RO 49.271 million, up from RO 44.326 million in 2015. Net earnings after tax jumped 10.5 per cent to RO 5.726 million, up from RO 5.182 million.
Significantly, the brightening outlook for container throughput growth at Port of Salalah bodes well for the progression of an ambitious initiative unveiled recently by the National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification ‘Tanfeedh’.
The initiative envisages a significant upgrade of Salalah Port’s infrastructure aimed at boosting the hub’s container capacity and facilitating the flow of bulk commodities and liquids through the port.
The proposal moots the expansion of Salalah Port’s Container Terminal through investments in new berths designed to ultimately lift the port’s container handling capacity from the present 5 million TEU to 7.5 million TEU, entailing a 50 per cent increase. The goal is to “consolidate Salalah’s position as one of the most important transshipment ports in the region”, according to Tanfeedh.
The proposal is part of a raft of initiatives to help leverage the Sultanate’s multimodal transportation infrastructure to fuel the growth of logistics-based economic activities in the Sultanate.