Heavy rainfall slows construction sector

Estimated US $8.1 million lost in Dubai this month as rain delays work on several projects

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By  Angela Giuffrida and Conrad Egbert Published  December 23, 2006

Persistent rain over the last few weeks has disrupted work on a number of construction projects across the region. In Qatar, work on the Airport Road Project has been delayed, while in Dubai contractors are counting the costs of the downpour, which has brought around 54.6 mm of rainfall since the end of November. Earlier this month, Qatar’s Public Works Authority (Ashghal) was forced to stall work on the second phase of the Airport Road project, which involved the laying of asphalt between two intersections, because of heavy rain. “There was heavy rain for a few days so we had to stop work. You cannot do asphalt work while it’s raining — so we had to stop and wait until it was dry before starting again,” said Mish’al Dhanim, project manager, Airport Road Project, Ashghal. In Dubai, informal estimates put the loss to the industry at US $8.1 million (AED30 million). However, Ani Ray, director at TAV Gulf, believes contractors may be able to claim for losses incurred due to extreme weather conditions if they are included within the contract’s ‘force majeure’ clause. “The unprecedented rain has affected us very much,” he said. “And what makes it worse is that it hasn’t been continuous. Not only has it set work back by around seven days, but it also affects materials like rebar, which cannot be exposed to rain. However, contractors can claim compensation for something like this under the ‘force majeure’ clause in the contract.” The rainfall has also impacted MEP contractors working in the emirate. According to Gareth Lucken, managing director, Industrial Water & Power Division, Drake & Scull, additional resources have been called on to help catch up on work that has been delayed. “It has slowed things down — particularly where we’re doing infrastructure work, such as laying power cables and pipelines — that has been directly affected because you’re typically working in very wet and sandy trenches. When we’ve had the odd dry days we’ve had to put on more resources to catch up,” he said. “Also, in buildings where cladding has started and work is taking place on the upper floors that are exposed, some of the services that have been installed have been exposed to the wet weather.” Lucken added that main contractors have been proactive in fending off any critical damage from the rain, such as wrapping rebar in canvas as a way of controlling corrosion. “A lot of the main contractors have been very proactive and have put up temporary sheeting and tarpaulins, and everyone’s tried to keep the water out of the buildings wherever they can,” he said. “And once they’ve actually fixed the steel, they wrap it in canvas or sheet anyway to control corrosion.”

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