Blacklisting will not work in the UAE, say contractors

Demand for projects would put scheme on back foot

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By  Conrad Egbert Published  December 2, 2006

Contractors in the UAE have said that the chances of clients blacklisting them for failing to complete projects on time is unlikely. This follows a warning by Qatar’s Public Works Authority (Ashghal) to contractors in the country that they will be blacklisted if they fail to complete projects on time. Speaking to Construction Week, Jamal Shreda Al Kaabi, director, Road Project Affairs at Ashghal, said: “We will blacklist contractors that do not have genuine reasons for delaying projects. We’re not unreasonable and if a contractor has a valid reason for delay we will overlook it, but we are trying to filter out the bad contractors from the good ones, and that is the main reason for this move.” But UAE contractors feel that such a move will not be adopted in the UAE, mainly due to supply and demand, the involvement of too many players in a project and the impracticality of such a policy. “There is no such blacklist in the UAE and I don’t see it happening either,” said Ani Ray, regional director, TAV Gulf. “And even if a client does charge compensation from the main contractor for delay in a project, very often it filters down to the subcontractor, so there is no sure way of blacklisting anyone as there are too many people involved.” According to Anwer Sher, director, City of Arabia, background checks on companies before they are awarded a contract, will filter out the good from the bad. “A company’s market reputation plays a big role during the selection process, along with its resources and capabilities, so in a way there is no need for a blacklist,” he said. “If the company’s reputation is bad, they’ll automatically begin to lose out on work. Also, a blacklist is very impractical as there can be many reasons for a delay in a project. But having said that, in a lump sum contract, I do feel that the main contractor is responsible for any delay.” The UAE’s construction industry is much bigger than Qatar’s with many more projects looking for contractors. “There is no need for a blacklist as clients tend to issue time schedules that are close to impossible, so they expect and even account for delays in a project,” said a J&P spokesperson. “Also, with the amount of work available at the moment, the clients can’t afford to come up with things like blacklists. There is too much work and not enough contractors to do it.”

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