Iraq has suspended work on its largest housing project due to the spread of Coronavirus and low oil prices, the official daily Alsabah said on Wednesday.
The paper confirmed earlier reports that the cabinet decided to freeze 'Bismaya City' although nearly a third of the $7.7-billion project has been completed by South Korea's Hanwha Engineering and Construction Corp. since it was awarded the contract in May 2012.
The paper said the decision last week would cost more than 800 jobs and prompted action by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry on the grounds the contract stipulates no job lay-offs without prior consent by the Minister.
Newspapers in Iraq, a key OPEC member, said last week that Hanwha has completed nearly 30,000 units of the 100,000-house project near the capital Baghdad.
Iraqi deputy Taha Al-Difai was quoted this week as saying the cabinet has informed Hanwha of its decision to suspend the project because of the sharp decline in oil prices and the spread of Coronavirus that has forced a lockdown in most parts of Iraq.
Bismaya City, Iraq's largest housing project, is designed to accommodate nearly 600,000 people and it includes the construction of power and sewage networks, transport and communications systems, roads, car parks, schools and universities, health centres and other facilities.
Located nearly 10 kilometres Southeast of the Baghdad city, the project is spread on an area of around 18-square kilometres. Work began in 2013 and was scheduled to be completed within seven years.
Writing by Nadim Kawach; Editing by Anoop Menon)
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