Construction Week Newsletter 23rd October 2004

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By  Eudore Chand Published  October 23, 2004

Editorial Leader|~||~||~|

Getting development in sync

The burst of construction activity in the UAE has left all amazed at the speed with which things are being planned, come off drawing boards and in a matter of months are above ground and reaching for the skies. Projects that are in initial design stage are announced and sold out even before detailed engineering plans are drawn up for tender such is the hunger for property. The municipal and utilities machinery is stretched to the limits to deal with the rush of applications for the supply of electricity, water, phone and sewerage that are the basics of modern life. That some administrations have managed to not only hold up but to carry out associated infrastructure development without a time lag is an achievement. Not all emirates have performed well. There is an average lag of over a year just to get electricity and water into some of the new buildings that have been built in some of the northern emirates. Even after a couple of years, new buildings in newer localities are still without proper asphalted road access in several areas. Civic amenities have just not managed to catch up. The drive to build has outpaced the supply of infrastructure, although Etisalat has proved an exception. No building that has been completed anywhere in the UAE is reported to have had problems in getting its phones connected. Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) seems to have been doing its job evenly across the UAE. Dubai as an emirate too is an exception to this problem. Despite the fact that development is proceeding at a pace in Dubai that far exceeds the other emirates in the UAE (some say that Dubai has the highest construction activity per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world), the emirate’s utilities are keeping up with the demands for services and even managing to be ahead on many developments. This level of co-operation between emirate entities (the Dubai Municipality and Dubai Electricity & Water Authority) is a model of a healthy working relationship, a model that has been extended to the relationships between the emirate’s institutions and the federally operated Etisalat. It is a model that the northern emirates would do well to follow. Easy to say; difficult to implement. The telephones always work because Etisalat is a Federal authority, and it draws its investment money from federal budgets and its own cash resources. The municipal budgets of the northern emirates are not so well endowed. Money for the development of infrastructure is always a problem. It is a problem though that the UAE, taken as a whole, should work at solving. Asymmetric development within the country can be tolerated to a certain extent, but there should be a point at which the Federal government steps in. Buildings without water or electricity for a year after they have been completed does not give out the right messages for UAE Inc.||**||

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