Aug 24 2013
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Classification rules hit public sector projects in Saudi Arabia
"The method of putting up projects for tender hasn't been modernized in 30 years, which benefited a limited number of companies that monopolized Saudi projects," said Mansour Al Areefi, general director of a company that operates in the public sector.
He said that the lack of modernizing companies' classification led to monopoly over projects and that even though they monopolize many existing projects, they are awarded extra ones, which call for modernizing company classification and tender methods.
He pointed out that segmenting large projects between contractors contributes to bringing down costs, speeds up completions and raises the quality of work.
"Segmentation might be done according to infrastructure, which includes electricity, carpentry, finishing and other works," he added.
Al-Areefi stressed the necessity to restructure and reorganize tender methods, and award projects to qualified consultant companies because these companies have more qualified engineers who can be held accountable for any implementation errors or delays in delivery.
Sulieman Al-Omran, a specialist in the contracting and land sector, said public sector projects in Saudi Arabia are monopolized by some companies. These companies have a large share in giant projects, but some of them can't implement these projects, which means they subcontract other companies to carry out these projects.
He said contractors' classification reviews and giving qualified contractors the chance to participate in these projects, reflects positively on contracting companies and projects. It leads to honest competition, reduces project costs and speeds up delivery. All these factors are needed in the contracting sector, especially in the light of delay in a sizable percentage of public sector projects.
Hussein Masheit, member of the Saudi Council for Architectural Sciences, said delays in projects are caused either by owners or contractors or both of them. Delays result from weak or incomplete designs especially in the public sector.
"Projects with incomplete designs are usually delivered, most of the time contractors are requested to review and amend these designs," he said. "Contractors don't take into account basic elements that affect the project's location like the best possible direction for the building, or the nature of the earth. We need to impose stricter controls, through a qualified supervising apparatus that can overcome engineering problems and solve them as quickly as possible. The team should be able to facilitate documents and contractor's extracts effectively and without delay."
He added: "Weak support from the owner to the contractor, in relation to the contractor's relationship with other entities, like issuing permits or facilitating acquiring visas and iqamas, is one of the main reasons behind delayed government projects."
He said some contractors are responsible for delays in implementation because of their weak potential or lack of experience in carrying out similar jobs.
Failure to deliver on time could be caused by the large number of awarded contracts that surpass the abilities of some companies, in addition to the lack of qualified cadre and laborers because visas were not obtained in time for the project.
"Consultant engineering offices face the same obstacles as contracting companies," he said. "They too lack qualified cadre because of the difficulty in recruiting qualified engineers in the projects that come under their supervision. This affects the implementing company's level of confidence in taking suitable procedures or decisions when dealing with obstacles. The difficulty in getting visas and delay in their issuance affects the project's requirements negatively."
He suggests that contracting companies should complete all engineering designs and studies, and check its implementation possibilities without any obstacles.
The contractor's role should be limited to implementation. A mechanism should be devised to approve all relevant entities from design offices, contractors and consultants, everyone according to his specialization and readiness to implement the project.
The experts' committee in the Council of Ministers issued a directive to the Ministry of Rural and Municipal Affairs to classify contractors through creating a database that includes completed projects and those still to be completed.
The database should point out the delayed projects, and classify contractors according to available information about them.
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