Qatar launches probe after rains exposed poor construction, bans workers from leaving country
DUBAI - The Associated Press
AFP photoQatar has launched an investigation after heavy rains exposed poor construction in a country set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a deluge that saw water cascade through the roof of its $15 billion main airport.
The country has also banned contractors from leaving the small, oil-rich country as it carries out a probe into how heavy rains damaged buildings and roadways.
An article on late Nov. 27 on the state-run Qatar News Agency announced the travel ban. It said “owners of companies, contractors and consulting engineers” would be banned from traveling abroad until the end of the probe.
The investigation already is examining the work of five unnamed companies and others could be targeted as well in the probe launched by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, who also serves as interior minister, the country’s state-run Qatar News Agency said.
“Parties responsible for dereliction or negligence, whether governmental or private, will be held accountable,” the agency said, citing a statement on late Nov. 25 from Qatar’s Government Communication Office.
Reached for comment, officials at Doha’s Hamad International Airport issued a statement simply saying: “There was no impact to operations yesterday.” It referred other questions to the government.
The day before, at least 79.5 millimeters (3.13 inches) of rain fell at the airport, according to the Qatar Meteorology Department. Typically, the hot, desert country sees around 50 millimeters (1.97 inches) of rain in a year.
The sudden rainfall saw water pour out of the airport’s ceiling in several places, captured in online videos.
Qatar opened Hamad International Airport in April 2014, part of its effort to enter the competitive Gulf airline market. The 600,000 square meter (6.5 million square feet) passenger terminal complex was scheduled to be completed in 2009. The airport is part of a multibillion-dollar building boom in Doha ahead of the 2022 World Cup. However, the push has seen Qatar criticized for the way it treats its large migrant worker population. There also have been accusations of shoddy construction.