Stops and some new starts

Construction sites in Dubai, currently billed as the 'biggest construction site in the world', came to a complete standstill last week.

COMMENT, Projects

The opening scene of a film released a few years ago called 28 Days Later shows a man wandering aimlessly through the deserted streets of London.

Shops are closed, buses are empty and there is not a car or another human being in sight.

This was pretty much how Dubai felt last Monday.

Fortunately, the emirate hadn't been struck by an infection that wiped out the human race overnight, like in the film; the ghost-town-like ambience descended because US President George W Bush was in town.

Rumour has it he thought he was going to Dublin, but lost his way.

That might have explained the last-minute chaos that led to major roads being blocked and an impromptu day off for all.

Those of you who didn't take the ‘don't go out, all roads are closed' warning too seriously would have witnessed the barren construction sites. It was a rarity - even on an official holiday - to see construction in Dubai, currently billed as the ‘biggest construction site in the world', come to a complete standstill.

The economic cost for the loss of one day's work has been felt by most industries.

But for the construction industry, just one day off site would no doubt have been felt even more severely, particularly if it's coupled with lost time due to days of heavy rain and the ever increasing materials and operational costs.

Still, as construction slowed down progress was made towards getting measures in place for fire safety in buildings under construction.

Part of the new Dubai Civil Defence code will entail project owners hiring a fire safety officer who will police the enactment of the law.

Singapore, often compared to Dubai, has a seemingly exemplary system for monitoring fire safety during construction. And those employed as safety officers have to have ten years experience. This could be something to consider when selecting inspectors.

The same can be said for the Ministry of Labour's plans for an independent agency to monitor health and safety standards.

It might not be possible for inspectors to be on site all the time, but tightening enforcement could go a long way to ensuring compliance.

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