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Tue 1 Jun 2010 12:48 AM

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SPA president sees expanding role for private companies

Private companies currently handle 70% of operations at 8 major Saudi ports.

SPA president sees expanding role for private companies
SEAPORT EXPANSION: As part of its effort to provide services to container ships sailing through its waters, Saudi Arabia will give private companies a greater role in expanding its seaports. (Getty Images)

Private companies will play a growing role in the expansion of Saudi Arabia’s seaports, as part of the country’s effort to provide services to the majority of container ships sailing through Middle East waters, the president of Saudi Ports Authority said today.

Speaking to Bloomberg on the sidelines of a maritime conference in the Red Sea port of Jeddah, Khaled Bu Bshait, said: “The government has already invested 40 billion riyals ($10.7 billion) to date on ports, and we want to ease the burden on the government’s shoulders."

Bu-Bshait declined to disclose the cost of the planned expansion of the nation’s ports, but he said that private businesses had so far invested $1.8 billion.

Private companies now handle 70 percent of the operations at eight major Saudi ports, and Bu-Bshait said that he wants to see them play an even bigger role.

The Saudi Ports Authority wants private investors to help expand Jeddah Islamic Port, the kingdom’s largest, to enable it to handle 15 million containers a year by 2020, more than double its current capacity of 6.5 million containers, the official said.

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