Qatar imposes travel ban on contractors amid rain-damage probe

Gulf state investigating allegedly shoddy construction practices after heavy rains caused damage to infrastructure

PHOTO: Heavy rains overwhelmed the Qatari capital last week, flooding streets and forcing stores to shut down. Credit: Gerd Nonneman/Twitter

Qatar has banned executives of several contractors from leaving the country amid a probe into how heavy rains last week damaged buildings and roadways, Associated Press (AP) reported.

The state-run Qatar News Agency announced the travel ban on Friday, saying “owners of companies, contractors and consulting engineers” would be banned from going abroad until the end of the probe.

Qatar was last week deluged by a year’s worth of rain, with the $15 billion Hamad International Airport in Doha was the worst hit. Rain poured through the airport’s roof and also flooded streets, shutting down some stores and malls in the Qatari capital, AP reported. A few schools were also closed on account of the heavy rains, local media reported.

The heavy rains have prompted the government to launch a probe into whether construction practices were responsible for the damage, it was reported.

The investigation is examining the work of five unnamed companies and others could also be targeted in the investigation launched by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, according to the Qatar News Agency.

“Parties responsible for dereliction or negligence, whether governmental or private, will be held accountable,” the agency said, citing a statement late Wednesday from Qatar’s Government Communication Office.

When reached for comment by AP, officials at Hamad International Airport issued a statement saying there was no impact on operations.

At least 79.5mm (3.13 inches) of rain fell at the airport on Wednesday, according to the Qatar Meteorology Department. Typically, the GCC state sees around 50mm (1.97 inches) of rain in a year.

The rainfall caused water to pour out of the airport’s ceiling in several places, captured in online videos.

Hamad International Airport opened in April last year, and is part of a multibillion-dollar construction boom in Doha ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The push has seen Qatar come under fire over the treatment of migrant workers, and there have also been accusations of shoddy construction.


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