Qatar’s public works authority has suspended work on a massive multibillion-riyal project to build a modern sewer and drainage network in and around Doha.
In a letter sent to contractors for the Inner Doha Re-sewerage Implementation Strategy (IDRIS) last week, project management consultants CH2M Hill International ordered firms to “suspend the works with immediate effect.”
In an apparent reference to Ashghal, the letter said:
“The reason for this suspension is that the Authority is presently anticipating the termination of the Contract for the Authority’s convenience, pursuant to Sub-clause 18.5.1 (b) of the General Conditions of Contract.”
The letter was sent to representatives of three construction firms that make up the joint venture SHP.
SHP Contractors – a joint venture comprising of Hochtief Solutions, Petroserv and Al Straiya Strabag – won a package worth more than QR1 billion for the construction of the 14.7km long, central section of the main trunk sewer.
It involves digging a tunnel with a diameter of between 3m and 4.5m – roughly double the height of an average adult man – up to 55m underground.
That’s one of three contracts Ashghal awarded last May on the project, which in total are worth more than QR3.2 billion.
The remaining two contracts for the design and construction of the north and south sections of the network went to a joint venture of UrbaCon Trading and Contracting (UCC) and Bouygues Construction Qatar.
One source linked to IDRIS told Doha News that work has stopped on all those projects, although engineers are still on site documenting work done so far to help prepare for compensation claims.
“No one has given a proper answer (to what will happen). Staff have been told to wait until after Eid for an answer,” the source added.
In the letter to contractors dated June 22, Bill Van Wagenen, program director at CH2M Hill, said:
“The Engineer will issue further instructions in respect to actions to be taken by the Contractor during the period of suspension in order to allow for the orderly termination of the contract…”
No reason has been given publicly for the decision.
Officials from Bouygues and CH2M Hill International referred questions from Doha News to Ashghal, which refused to comment. Representatives from UCC were not available to discuss the project.
What is IDRIS?
The three contracts are a significant part of IDRIS, which is a QR10 billion, eight-year project that began in 2012, according to Ashghal’s website.
The development involves the construction of a 45km long main trunk sewer in the south of Doha as well as more than 70km of lateral interceptor sewers.
The plan was for a terminal pump station, in addition to the construction of the new Doha South advanced sewage treatment works with an initial capacity of 500,000 cubic meters per day, QNA reported last May when Ashghal awarded the three contracts.
These contracts were for the design and construction of the main trunk sewer project, as part of a “future-proofing” initiative to handle the country’s rising population.
The plan is to upgrade and expand the sewer and drain networks for Doha, Al Wakrah and Mesaieed to accommodate an expected 1 million additional residents who are expected to move to areas south of Qatar’s capital city, according to Ashghal’s website.
At the time of signing over a year ago, QNA reported that the new network aims to:
“Serve the long term needs of Doha and south of Qatar, in a way that accommodates the expected population growth and meets the requirements of transferring and treating sewage water for the coming 50 years, in addition to eliminating over 35 existing pump stations.”
In a statement last September, Bouygues said it would work with UCC to construct two tunnels. The northern section was to be 16km long and 3m wide, while the southern part was set to be 14km long and 4.5m wide.
Work began on that part of the IDRIS project last year and it was expected to continue until late 2019.