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Qatar faces materials squeeze in pre-World Cup boom

Sourcing materials is one of the biggest challenges facing infrastructure projects in Qatar ahead of the Fifa 2022 World Cup, senior engineers from consultant Hyder said last week.

The consultant last week won a QAR414M (£71M) design contract for the 900km long Doha expressway, a key part of the planned pre-World Cup modernisation of Qatar.

Speaking to NCE at the contract signing in Doha, Hyder project director Ian Hughes emphasised the difficulties of sourcing materials.

“The biggest issue that the country will face is lack of materials,” he said. “In the UK you try to balance the amount of fill and cut you’ve got. Here it’s more difficult because it’s very hard rock underground and they tend to use over the edge drainage, meaning the highway has to be elevated on embankments all the way through.

“If we all just went off to do our own thing it would be chaos,” he said. “There’s a lot of interface work to be done.”

In total, 30 separate projects divided into 10 contract packages will be let on the Expressway project, with the programme compressed into seven years.

Contractors on the Expressway will be competing for resources among themselves and with contractors building the city’s new multi-line metro project and the nine stadiums.

Hyder’s Expressway contract is focused on a stretch of road north of Doha city. “This is a key route on the project because it connects two major development areas in Al Khor and Lusail,” said Hughes. “On top of this, the Doha Metro will run alongside the route and two stadiums for the 2022 World Cup will be alongside it.

“Our biggest problem is trying to construct the [metro] railway at the same time as the carriageway. We’ll have two contractors working in the same corridor.” Hyder’s contract includes carrying out construction supervision in addition to detailed design and is the second largest the consultant has ever been awarded.

Public works authority Ashghal awarded eight design contracts in total last week to consultants including Halcrow, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Aecom.

It has made clear to the winning designers the importance of on time delivery.

“The deadline imposed because of Fifa 2022 has created lines you cannot cross, which to me is the biggest challenge,” said Hyder country manager Maher Chatila. “All these commitments need to be realised.

“When we talked to Ashghal president Nasser Ali al-Mawlawi he said: ‘Delivery, delivery, delivery is the key to this programme. You can give me all the beautiful marketing or other strategies but the one that matters most is delivering on time with good quality and good legacy’.”

Atkins wins Doha role

Consultant Atkins is to support French construction giant Vinci on its £1.3bn Doha Metro contract, NCE can reveal.

Last week Client Qatar Railways Company awarded the contract to design and build 14.5km of twin-bore tunnels on the Red Line South to a consortium that includes the QDVC Qatari Diar/Vinci joint venture along with South Korean GS Engineering & Construction and local firm Darwish Engineering.

Vinci this week confirmed Atkins as QDVC’s designer.

“It’s a great win for our rail team,” said Atkins UK chief executive David Tonkin.

“It’s also a very positive indicator of growth in our rail business.”

Tonkin was speaking to NCE following the firm’s announcement of its preliminary results for the 12 months to 31 March 2013.

The consultant announced a 10% jump in operating profit for its UK business. The firm’s UK business generated an operating profit of £56.6M compared to £51.6M for the same period the previous year.

Overall underlying profit before tax was up 2.9% to £104.5M, although the business struggled in North America and, ironically, the Middle East.

Tonkin stressed the importance of hiring and training staff to the continued success of the business.

“We have a real focus on hiring new graduates,” he said. “In 2011 we hired 150 graduates [in the UK], in 2012 it rose to 230 and this year we expect that number to rise again to between 320 and 350.”

Staff numbers for the UK grew 5% to 9,374 on 31 March, although average staff numbers for the year dropped 1.4%.


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