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Disputes delay $800m Saudi school construction projects

Approximately 510 school construction schemes are reportedly at a standstill

Disputes have delayed approximately 510 school projects in Saudi Arabia [representational image].
Disputes have delayed approximately 510 school projects in Saudi Arabia [representational image].

Approximately 510 school construction projects are said to be at a standstill due to disputes between Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Education and the contractors.

Collectively, the delayed projects are valued at $800m (SAR3bn). According to a Saudi Gazette report, which cites the local Al-Madina newspaper, some of the stalled projects were only 20% complete when they should have been nearly finished.

The article did not state the nature of the disputes or explain what would happen to the unfinished school projects.

READ: Saudi ministry fires contractor for school construction delays

Short-term and costly solutions, such as merging schools, renting buildings, and running classes during a morning-evening shift pattern, are reportedly being explored by the authorities as they look to meet rising demand for educational facilities in the kingdom.

Nabeel Abbas, a member of Saudi Council of Engineers, was quoted as saying the country lacked enough “qualified and trained consultants, contractors, owners, lawyers, accountants, and workers” to effectively carry out the construction projects. He said the government should adopt Fidic (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) contracts to accelerate the speed of construction projects and help contractors “feel secure” in their role.

Saudi Arabia is pushing forward with numerous construction projects as part of its Vision 2030 strategy, but Saud Al-Sadi, a former member Makkah Chamber of Commerce's Contractors Committee, said contractors had “no control” over cash flow, which was holding construction projects back. He reportedly said that local market was in “dire need of skilled and experienced workers” and called for the government to do more to grant work permits for the construction sector.

News of the 510 stalled projects came after Saudi Gazette reported last week that the kingdom's Ministry of Education had fired a contractor that failed to build two schools on time. 

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Construction Week - Issue 751
Oct 13, 2019