Qatar minister orders inquiry into ‘flawed projects’ after flooding
Updated at 9pm to include the number of ambulance calls
Qatar’s prime minister has ordered an investigation into why a seasonal storm caused so much chaos across the country today, QNA reports.
This evening, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani instructed authorities to bring the companies behind the country’s “flawed projects” before the public prosecutor.
The investigation will include at least five companies, but a spokesperson for Qatar’s Government Communication Office told Doha News that the firms in question would not be identified at this time.
According to a statement on the news agency:
“Parties responsible for dereliction or negligence, whether governmental or private, will be held accountable. All concerned bodies and companies that implemented the projects, which the current rains and the weather conditions have revealed their flaws, must be referred to investigation and then to the Public Prosecution.”
Though heavy rain has been in the forecast for about a week, many were unprepared for the scale of the flooding and damage caused, which prompted several schools and malls across the country to close temporarily.
Hamad Medical Corp. paramedics responded to 250 emergency calls and road traffic collisions between 6am and 3pm. That’s 50 more than the previous day, the health care authority said in a statement.
According to a meteorologist at Al Jazeera English, Doha was hit with a year’s worth of rain in nine hours. School is expected to resume on Thursday, though Qatar is forecast to get one more day of rain before the weather clears up in time for the weekend.
Storms have deposited between 20-30mm of rain over many areas in and around Doha, according to Qatar’s Meteorology Department (MET).
The area around Hamad International Airport was hit the hardest, receiving more than 80mm of rain from mid-Tuesday to noon today.
The multibillion-dollar airport, which opened last year, was one of many buildings across the country that failed to hold up to the storm, with reports of water raining down into the passenger terminal this morning:
Other incidents also involved newly built or recently renovated structures, such as water seeping into the Sheraton Hotel and a section of ceiling collapsing inside Ezdan Mall.
The widespread damage prompted some residents to question building and construction standards in Qatar.
Speaking to Doha News today, Al Sharq journalist Ahmed Al Mohannadi said that heavy rain shouldn’t paralyze the country.
He said although Qatar has new buildings and the MET can predict weather changes beforehand, construction standards, drainage systems and emergency response continue to be a problem.
“We don’t learn from our previous mistakes,” he said, adding that more people needed to be held accountable for the problems caused by the rain.
Salwa Road flooding
The prime minister has ordered similar investigations in the past, including into the March 2014 flooding of a Salwa Road underpass following heavy rainfall.
Eventually, a committee found that incident was caused by the lack of an outlet for the road’s drains, a fact that Ashghal itself also disclosed.
In a report, the panel made several recommendations aimed at preventing similar incidents in the future. These included setting up a permanent emergency and crisis management system at Ashghal and establishing a new system to monitor how well the sewage network is coping during periods of heavy rain.
It’s not known if Ashghal implemented these recommendations or, if it did, what impact the new systems had during today’s storm.
It does appear, however, that the drains on Salwa Road have since been connected:
As the investigation opens, Qatar’s Ministry of Municipality appears to be working overtime to sop up the mess on the roads: