During 2018 and 2019 there has been a general decline in the size of government infrastructure projects in Egypt compared with the period between 2014 and 2017 where there were huge projects, such as the Suez Canal expansion and the Siemens mega power plants. Daily News Egypt interviewed the Managing Director of Universal Transport Egypt (UTEET), Hisham El Dahshan to explore their upcoming plans and reveal how they handled those challenges, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
How did you face this decline that affected the results of many companies operating in the project services industry?
As one of the leading heavy haulage operators in Egypt, we have seen a decline in the volume of cargoes, yet we have been able to secure many smaller projects which we have executed with great success. Hence we have not really been negatively affected by market conditions.
What is your investment plan for 2019 and 2020?
We intend to double the size of our fleet in Egypt during the upcoming two years as we aim to position ourselves among the top three heavy haulage operators in Egypt in terms of capacity. The outlook for 2020 looks very promising and we are confident that it will be record year for us in terms of turnover.
We would like to know the major accomplishments and results of Universal Transport Egypt in 2018.
We have executed power generation, renewable energy, oil and gas, and infrastructure projects with great success. We have managed to double our customer base and tackle new industries.
How do you perceive the Egyptian market during the next five years? Is the Egyptian market still attractive and does it offer opportunities?
We believe that the outlook for the Egyptian market for the next five years is positive and there are surely several opportunities for investment. We have built our aggressive expansion plan in Egypt based on the encouraging feedback we have had from our customers.
Does the development of the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) present an opportunity for you?
The new SCZone is a very exciting prospective project. We aim to be involved in it via our customers who are already active there.
Are you interested in participating in this year’s Break Bulk Europe Exhibition 2019 in Bremen? Do you aim to establish new partnerships? Do you intend to purchase new equipment?
Since the inception of Breakbulk Europe, the Universal Transport Group has been participating with its own large booth. We will be present again this year, where we look forward to meeting all our partners and international customers.
Do you see any legal obstacles/red tape curtailing your planned investments?
We don’t see anything major in that respect and we are going ahead with our planned investments.
Does the lack of uniform pricing for toll stations by Wataneya present a problem?
This is a complicated subject matter which has made our life quite difficult during the last couple of years but we are optimistic that things will become more transparent in the future.
Have you prepared for the upcoming liberalisation of fuel prices in mid-June 2019? Do you expect an increase in costs and road freight prices?
We have thoroughly studied and prepared for it. We are not expecting a major impact as fuel prices don’t affect heavy haulage the same way they affect normal road transport. Nevertheless, transport prices will increase but only to a limit.
Do you have any existing business or expansion plans outside Egypt? Are you currently bidding for any projects outside Egypt?
Universal Transport Group’s head office is located in Paderborn, Germany, and we have offices covering all of Europe. Hence we have projects in over 20 different countries which we are currently handling successfully.