Heavy traffic snarls continue to congest the city due to the delay in completion of major road projects by the Public Works Authority (Ashghal).
The delays have been attributed to various factors ranging from shortage of building material to the failure of the contracting companies to fulfil their commitments. Ashghal has come under severe criticism from the Central Municipal Council (CMC) for their failure to execute projects in a proper and planned manner.
There have been criticisms that some projects were awarded to contractors who did not have the necessary expertise and manpower to accomplish the projects within the scheduled time frame. This was compounded by the resignation of several Qatari staff and officials from the authority recently. With a new team at the helm, Ashghal is now reviewing its five-year plan to prioritise projects and resolve the pending issues.
The easing of traffic congestion in the city could be expected with the completion of major road projects such as the D Ring Road and the February 22 Street that are part of the Doha Expressway projects, Salwa-Abu Samra road, the first phase of the Dukhan highway and the Industrial Area junction. Most of these projects are lagging. The projects were originally scheduled to be completed by the middle or end of 2008. Critics say that road closures and traffic diversions have become the norm in the city. Even small maintenance works take longer than expected, leading to traffic congestions in many crowded streets. Ashghal has clarified that the delay was mainly due to poor infrastructure. The authority is responsible not only for construction of roads but also other infrastructure works such as establishing water and electricity networks and installing telecommunication cables and sewage lines.
These, coupled with a shortage of building material and skilled workers were the factors that delayed the projects, the authority has said. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning H E Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Khalifa bin Abdul Aziz Al Thani, in a recent statement, urged the new Ashghal leadership to prepare itself to take up the challenges.
He said the authority should focus more on quality and ensure only companies with a high repute are selected to execute the projects.