Site visit: Lusail City, contract package 5

Acrow's formwork is helping to shape Lusail City

Acrow's formwork is helping to shape one of Qatar's most important developments, Lusail City
Acrow's formwork is helping to shape one of Qatar's most important developments, Lusail City

RELATED ARTICLES: Top of the formworkersFormwork on the fly

Anybody familiar with the work currently going on around Qatar will know about Lusail City, and will have read of the footprint of the ambitious development.

The statistics are familiar, but still worth noting given their grandeur. Lusail is a 35km² site 22km north of Doha, with a number of construction projects underway.

It is described as one of the most significant developments planned for Qatar in the coming years and has been designed to become an urban growth corridor that will expand northwards from Doha.

With the population of Qatar set to grow siginificantly, Lusail City will respond to the need for new housing, commercial and retail space, together with full infrastructure development.

When complete, Lusail will be the home to 19 different districts, with an estimated population of 450,000, made up of 200,000 residents, 170,000 employees and 80,000 visitors. It will also offer 36 schools, a state-of-the-art hospital, and an underground metro link to new Doha rail network.

But it is only once you have approached Lusail, once you step out onto this vast project that you can fully appreciate its size and scale. On arrival at the outer point of Lusail City, it is another 15 minute drive to the contract package 5 (CP5) site, with the eye instantly drawn to Samsung C&T’s suspension bridges that stand out from the countless trucks, cranes and concrete pumps that otherwise dominate the landscape.

While not immediately obvious, the ground then drops to reveal part of what will soon be the Lusail road network, with workmen busy building the upper level of one of the roads.

The importance of formwork to this project is clear in that it is everywhere you look, whether standing tall against an exterior wall or flat where the expressway is taking shape.

Formwork company Acrow’s role extends beyond the physical formwork itself, also including site supervision and on-site training for the contractor’s crew - which in this case is Samsung C&T - as well as formwork certification. The company is currently working on a number of contracts in Lusail City.

“At the beginning of each project we run training sessions for the contractors where we show them how best to use the formwork, the HSE requirements when they are using the formwork, how to erect the formwork, and best use the panels.

We also have site engineers and supervisors who are able to help the contractor’s engineers if that is needed,” says Ahmed Elhadidy, Gulf general manager for Acrow.

The added capability has been key to winning work in the competitive Qatar market, says Elhadidy.

“We have worked on a number of projects in the infrastructure sector here in Qatar, such as bridges and underpasses. We are not just supplying the formwork, but we are also providing some of the engineering as well. We have a unique system for bridges and other heavy load structures which really helps the contractor, so that all makes us more than just a supplier.

“With regards to bridge and underpass projects, almost all of them have been done with Acrow, which includes the Doha Expressway and Lusail itself. Out of the eight major bridge projects in Qatar, we are working on six of them.

“I think the fact that we are working on so many of these projects is down to the whole service that Acrow can offer.

As with many companies with a large share of its business interests in Qatar, Acrow has had to wait for longer than it would have liked to see meaningful contracts come to tender and be awarded, with many in the industry seeing 2013 as something of a watershed.

Elhadidy believes that the companies who have been prepared to wait for their chances will now prosper, adding that the Lusail City project will be a milestone for the country of Qatar.

“It is true that there have been delays, although this is normal at the beginning of projects and time will be caught up further down the line,” he comments. “For the last couple of years, there has been fierce competition between companies, but the ones who have survived will get a good share of the market in the next few years.

“But what we are building here with the Lusail City project is the first city in Qatar with global standards; we are building the city from scratch, and everything is being done to the very highest international standards.”

The potential for Acrow to expand is clear, says Elhadidy, and the company is keen to showcase its capabilities in other infrastructure and commercial sectors, both in Qatar and further afield.

“We have targets for the amount of work we want to take on and the whole company is expanding - we’re doubling the number of projects we have each year. We have a good background in working on bridges so we will focus a lot on that area.

“We are tendering to get involved in some of the big rail projects in Qatar, and I think we could add some value in that area.

“In the rail sector, we have worked in Saudi Arabia so there is some built-in knowledge and expertise within the company. In addition, we’re also very keen to expand into the commercial and residential sectors, where we also have experience.”

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