(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi businessmen have called for Saudizing the public transport system as soon as it begins operating. The call came after the Cabinet approved a SR 45-billion plan for a public transport system covering roads, railways and seaways to be implemented in Jeddah within seven years.
Arab News spoke to Saudi businessmen who said that this sector will create a cluster of jobs and stressed the fact that there is an urgent need to reap its benefits.
"Saudizing this sector is needed. We are waiting for the officials in charge to take the decision," said Saleh Al-Turki, CEO of Nesma Holding.
He added: "Saudizing the public transport system will create a whole new category of job employment."
According to Al-Turki, Saudis only need training to be ready for such jobs. "I believe hiring Saudis in this sector from the outset is easier than hiring expats only to replace them with Saudis later. The officials in charge must set reasonable working hours and determine fair salaries so as to encourage Saudis to join this sector," he said.
Khaled A. Al-Araj, managing director of Al-Araj for Executive Search, told Arab News that this sector could create more than 5,000 jobs per project.
"Saudis have to benefit from these mega projects. Working in the public transport domain requires management staff, directors and workers. I believe that Saudis should be hired in positions at all levels, not just at the managerial level," said Al-Araj.
He added: "We have to admit that Saudis will certainly need training. Training courses should include work ethics, maintenance, accounting, customer service skills and soft skills. I think the municipality and the Jeddah Development and Urban Regeneration Company still have enough time to prepare young Saudis for these jobs."
I hope the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation also contributes to supporting the municipality by training a large number of Saudis, he said.
Jamal Abu-Sabah, a former member of the research and studies department at the Jeddah municipality, added: "If we look at European countries, we will find that nationals of those countries work in the public transport system and in municipal jobs. In Europe, working class workers receive fair salaries.
For example, a garbage collector earns about SR 8,000 a month. In addition, the working hours are determined according to the labor system worldwide," he said.
He added: "The Saudization of the public transport system is urgently needed. The government should begin the naturalization process as soon as the projects begin operation. Hiring non-Saudis will lower the standards of remuneration and work hours," he said.
"I think the holy mosque train project is a good example. I wonder how many non-Saudis and Saudis are working in this project, and if we (Saudis) have benefited from this project as much as we can," he asked. Abu-Sabah confirmed that implementing such projects will require a longer time span which might surpass seven years.
"Seven years wouldn't be enough to finalize theses mega projects. Therefore, I think Saudis have ample opportunity to get ready for such jobs. They can also start joining this sector through contributing to the implementation of these projects.
I believe that the Jeddah infrastructure is not ready for the mega transport projects. More effort is required and more workers and expertise are needed to contribute," he said.