Construction challenges not falling on deaf ears

While bottlenecks and manpower issues continue to plaque the construction sector, the Qatari government is addressing the concerns, say some in the industry

In an interview with CWQ, Ronald Alia Obordo, project manager, AEB highlighted some of the issues around material supply within Qatar and commented specifically on one of AEB’s projects in Lusail City, where, unlike a number of projects that have experienced the spectre of materials shortages, during its construction he says, structurally there were no shortages

“We didn’t experience any shortages as the concrete was locally sourced in Qatar where we have a number of concrete plants. The only thing in which we had a slight delivery delay with, but not a shortage, was sand imported from Saudi Arabia that had to come by road. It’s a case of supply and demand. Even though there was a scarcity of supply, I cannot consider it a shortage, it was definitely a case of a bottleneck.”

Hisham Mohamed Ahmed Elmahdy, project manager, Redco, the main contractor on the AEB project, commented: “The feeling is that the government should upgrade the regulations and the rules on bringing in material from other countries. The process needs to be easier. When I order materials, logistics becomes an issue.”

Obordo added, “The government needs to increase accessibility for the importation of materials and relax regulations as there are huge blockages in the ports.”

He said that even before the material arrives on site, the sheer volume is causing bottlenecks as it’s stuck in the port waiting clearance, creating delays as the release process grinds away. “We suffer the consequences of this delay,” he stressed.

Salim Kutty, company manager, Qatar Quarry Co supported that observation and commented that there are times that ships anchor off in the harbour for 40 days, waiting for clearance. “This impacts on materials costs, which in turn is transferred to the project,” he said.

Obordo added that there are also other issues that impact on dealys, citing labour challenges: “Another issue is sourcing manpower and the related process around visa applications. No-one in the private sector can just hire qualified engineers, as there are only a limited numbers of visas issued in Qatar. For example, if I require 5,000 workers, where and how am I going to source them? Even if the project has been approved, it’s this type of problem that creates a delay.”

On the other hand, Vladimir Slavcic, senior site architect for AEB added an interesting observation: “Doha is very good at implementing whatever is considered ‘new’ worldwide in the market, because society here is open to import and pay whatever it costs for the latest technology. So you can order from Europe, China or the US whatever you want, at whatever quality you are prepared to pay, there is no limit as the variety and option is huge.

“For example, if I wanted a special lighting system, I can get it from anywhere in the world, which is excellent for architectural development in Doha.”

Slavcic added that, given the rate of growth within the country, these types of challenges are normal and to be expected and are not specific to Qatar.

Obordo conceded that there has been “a tremendous improvement from the government over the past five years in this regard. The government is addressing all of these issues and it is listening to what the industry is saying, from the private sector especially. Laws are being revised and some regulations are easing up.”


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