Economies of scale

Renaissance Village Duqm which will be fully operational in April, 2017 can provide quality accommodation at affordable rates for close to 17,000 workforce at Duqm free zone. Muhammed Nafie reports

Oman will be setting a new standard in providing quality workforce accommodation when Renaissance Village Duqm, an iconic 17,000-bed facility to accommodate people working for different projects in Duqm free zone, will be fully operational in April, 2017. Through this world-class facility built at a cost of RO75mn in an area of 200,000m2, Special Economic Zone Authority at Duqm (SEZAD) shows the world how to look after workers at high standards, but affordable competitive rates. The first phase of the facility opened in February, 2017.

The village is 51 per cent owned by Renaissance Services, which has a proven track record of building quality workforce accommodation, i.e. permanent accommodation for contractors (PAC) located close to Oman’s major oilfields in Al Wusta region. Other stakeholders of the facility include Oman’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, Pension Fund, banks and local community investors.

“The whole plan comes from SEZAD’s vision to have quality but affordable accommodations available for workforces in Duqm,” says Stephen R Thomas, CEO of Renaissance Services. “Renaissance Village Duqm is another one in our series of villages in different parts of Oman; but it’s much larger than anything we have done before. This can accommodate 16, 960 people of which nearly 800 will be our staff.”

The accommodation at the village is more cost-effective than building short-term temporary porta cabin accommodation for the duration of a project. Says Thomas, “The facility delivers world-class accommodation to a very high standard with multiple recreational services; and at the same time it matches or beats the cost of building a porta cabin camp of this scale for the project duration. We deliver higher standards at lower costs through economies of scale.”

Catering to different categories

Built in anticipation of the large influx of manpower Duqm is expected to receive when SEZAD kicks into high gear, the complex comprises rooms for labourers, entry-level employees, management and senior staff that range from six-bed and four-bed dormitories to two-man shared accommodation, single rooms, and suites for senior staff. “This is very much workforce accommodation,” explains Thomas. “But the workforce will include senior management, supervisors and people coming down to do business from the companies staying with us. All our rooms are fully serviced and the rate includes laundry, housekeeping, recreation and three meals each day.”

The village has got a dedicated laundry facility, with washing machines, driers and steam ironing facilities. The water used in the laundry is recycled and repurposed to water a football field for workers. The village’s lifestyle kitchens are some of the best in Oman, serving meals tailored to global tastes. The menus change each day and will serve Arabic, Asian, South-Asian, Indian and Western/Continental cuisines. There are chapatti makers capable of churning out 4,000 chapattis an hour. The facility can also make use of a conveyor belt line to pack meals and send them to workers in the field. “We want to provide the workers who will come here healthy and nutritious meals so that they can work at their optimum best”, states Thomas.

In addition, there are medical and essential support services available. “We hear stories from all over the world of workers being poorly treated in camps with scant regard to their safety, wellbeing, occupational health etc. And we’re out to show that proper accommodation can be provided at a reasonable cost,” he says. A 15-bed clinic, equipped with an additional 13 bed isolation ward, has been constructed. There is also space allocated for barbershops, supermarkets, money exchange houses and anything else that the workers need in the future.

Asked when the facility is expected to be fully occupied, he replied, “We are expecting to get high-level of occupancy in 2018; there will be a slow build-up in 2017, but when major projects like Duqm refinery comes into play we could expect a significant volume.”

Renaissance is also looking at potential expansion of the village and complimentary beach club facility in the years ahead.

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