Bahraini officials say the opening of the new building materials terminal in Mina Salman port is both timely and appropriate considering the construction boom in the country.
"We have long suffered from a scarcity of building materials," said Hassan Kamal, chairman of the board of directors for Iqarat Bahrain. "Dedicating Mina Salman to [building material] imports represents a major step forward that will serve the interests of the real estate and construction sector."
The new terminal sent its first shipment of building materials, 9,836 metric tons of coke fuel, to Mina Saqr in the United Arab Emirates, on January 11, 2012.
Kamal said he expects the price of building materials to drop by 5-10% within three months of the terminal's opening, adding that cement, sand, and concrete will be most affected by the price decline.
Real estate experts and construction contractors said the new terminal will contribute to developing Bahrain's maritime transportation and logistical services sectors, and help avert future supply and demand crises.
"[The new terminal] is a major step in the right direction towards resolving the crises of the real estate sector," said Nasser al-Ahli, president of the Bahrain Realtors Society.
Al-Ahli said he expects the new terminal will lower building material costs and increase the quantity of imported materials by 40% to 50%, as well as increase storage capacity, ensure the materials' usability and facilitate their transport and distribution.
The new terminal will boost cement and ceramic supplies in Bahrain, he said, estimating that cement supplies will rise from 10,000 to 25,000 tons per day and ceramic supplies will rise from 6,000 to 10,000 units in coming months.
Other officials echoed al-Ahli's sentiment, noting the terminal has great potential to lower costs and boost Bahrain's construction sector.
"The new terminal, with its ability to accommodate larger vessels, will facilitate all matters relating to the import of construction materials, particularly cement, the most critical of all building materials," Samir Nass, chairman of the building and construction committee for the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Al-Shorfa.
If the terminal proves successful, it will be a more competitive, less costly option, Nass said. He said he expects the new terminal to contribute to advancing the building materials market and increasing the availability of most materials needed by the construction sector in Bahrain.
In the past, Bahrain imported building materials from neighbouring countries on small ships and barges, leading to shortages in supplies because these small vehicles could not accommodate the recent influx of construction projects.
"The increase in giant construction projects in Bahrain led to a rise in the cost of construction materials due to shortages in local supply and production," Nass said.
Nass said he is optimistic the new terminal project will maintain rates and import costs at competitive levels, thereby reducing the prices of construction materials.
Mina Salman is strategically located near Bahrain's major transit hubs, Bahrain International Airport, the King Fahd Causeway, which connects the country with Saudi Arabia, and the new Khalifa Port.
The General Organization of Sea Ports in Bahrain continues to study additional plans to continue developing Mina Salman and provide additional facilities for handling and storing building materials.
"The project represents a strategic move by Bahrain's logistic services and the construction sector to provide advanced, effective, and competitive services in accordance with international standards," Hassan al-Majed, director-general of the ports organisation, said in a February 16th press statement.
Bahrain's Salman port opened in 1967, making it the first and oldest port of its kind in the Gulf region. It was replaced by the Khalifa Port, which opened in 2009.