No skyscrapers for Jeddah

Saudi Arabia's port city Jeddah does not have the vital infrastructure to support skyscrapers, according to an industry expert.

 Industry experts have said that until Jeddah sorts out its infrastructure plan
Industry experts have said that until Jeddah sorts out its infrastructure plan

Saudi Arabia's port city Jeddah does not have the vital infrastructure to support skyscrapers, according to an industry expert.

Adil Bushnak, chairman of the infrastructure development company, Bushnak Group, has warned against any further construction in Jeddah until the government produces an integrated plan detailing how tall buildings will be serviced with transport, sewage, water and electricity.

He said the city's current facilities will fall far short of future demand and has suggested building underground tunnels across the city that would distribute the necessary utilities.

"Along all these major streets there should be infrastructure tunnels," he said. "Then the electricity or water company can put in a new line without digging up the street and they can then access their lines and maintain them without interruption to the traffic.

"Very soon you'll have a concentration of high-rises and demand for these facilities will far outweigh supply - then we will have a mess."

But the deputy mayor for construction and projects for Jeddah Municipality, Ibrahim Khalil Kutubkhanah, said measures are in place to avoid such problems.

He said developers must comply with density regulations which will reduce congestion.

They are also required to build internal sewage treatment facilities within their development to recycle waste water and reduce the pressure on Jeddah's sewage system.

To deal with traffic congestion, the municipality has commissioned an independent transport plan which is in its final stages of development.

"This is very critical, Jeddah is already congested, but we have a plan for 91 new bridges and tunnels, some of which are already under construction," Kutubkhanah said.

We also hope there will be a public transportation system that will reduce the amount of traffic by around 30%. This could include monorail with several lines, light rail, feeder trains and public buses."

As for electricity supply, Kutubkhanah said that is up to the developers and the utilities companies to resolve.

But Bushnak is concerned these measures are inadequate and is urging the council to take a more coordinated approach to the planning process.

"We don't have in Saudi Arabia decision-making authorities or comprehensive planning or integrated management," he said.

"The water people take care of water, the garbage people take care of garbage - everyone operates in a nutshell they are in charge of and that can cause problems.

"Nobody looks at the cost down stream - the traffic interruptions and social cost and other costs - all they look at is just the construction cost."

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