Saudi study finds 37 reasons behind project delays

Government agencies not supervising or conducting adequate research during initial planning stages, report finds

Saudi Arabia has conducted a study into why projects are being delayed or abandoned.

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The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Planning and Economy has demanded tough punitive measures against major contracting firms in the Kingdom, should they delay government projects due to negligence.

In a study conducted by the ministry, 37 reasons were identified for the failure or delay in the completion of government projects, said Abdullah Al Marwani, director of the studies and research department at the Ministry.

He added that one of the major issues was that the government agency (or owner of the project) did not supervise the project or conduct adequate engineering studies of the project during the initial planning stages, a report in Arab News, a Saudi based newspaper, said.

Furthermore, because these agencies rushed through the process of inviting and signing bids, design problems were only discovered later on in the project, causing major delays to the completion of the project.

Another issue Al Marwani pointed out was the use of small to medium sized contractors on projects, who hampered progress and delayed delivery.

“A serious problem with contractors is their dependence on small and medium range contracting companies,” Al Marwani said in the report, adding that these companies often lack the expertise or financial capacity to undertake major projects.

He added that contractors often selected sub-contractors who had not participated in the bidding process, which could cause problems during construction.

Contractors were also criticised for not conducting thorough research about the project requirements and technicalities prior to participating in bids. Furthermore, Al Marwani said that contractors often had project overlaps, which meant that their resources and efforts were overstretched.

For their part, the Kingdom’s contractors said that they faced major obstacles of their own when it came to dealing with the government, including complicated bureaucratic procedures and formalities, as well as serious delays in getting paid for their work.

They added that they had been forced to suspend or even abandon some projects due to their inability to find the right workers in the local market. Coupled with scarcity of construction materials, and the rising price of raw materials, contractors said this was causing considerable strain on their ability to deliver projects on time.

The study said that a thorough review of the rules and regulations governing government contracts should be implemented. In addition, it also recommended the establishment of professional contracting and consulting companies, so as to minimise the problems in the sector.


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