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Sat 19 May 2007 12:00 AM

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Piling expert calls for sector grading system

Contractor ‘brackets' would give clients way of selecting on the basis of ability.

A UAE-based ground engineering professional has called for the introduction of a grading system to enable clients to better select piling and foundation contractors.

According to Derek King, divisional manager, Dutco Balfour Beatty Piling and Ground Engineering Division, such a system would allow clients to gain a greater understanding of contractors' competencies as well as help improve health and safety standards.

"There's a system in Hong Kong, for example, where you have A, B and C grade [civil] contractors. If you are an A grade contractor, you could take on the big jobs, but you have to have a certain number of staff, a certain amount of plant and a long track record," he said.

"It would give clients a better feel about who they are taking on board, and it might be beneficial for the market, in that firms would have to meet certain criteria including having a health and safety policy in place."

Mark Newton, operations manager, Dutch Foundation, agreed that a grading system would be a good way to keep tabs on the growth of the industry and help maintain standards.

"Especially in a market like this, where anyone who has some money can go ahead and set themselves up as a foundations contractor, it would be a good idea," he said.

"There are a lot of companies that have established themselves in Dubai and Sharjah over the last 18 months to two years, who basically are not really in a position - from a construction, contractual or safety point of view - to execute some of the projects they are doing.

"But they are taking work from small to medium-sized private clients who are more interested in the bottom line than anything else.

"What then happens is that consultants are then designing for the lack of workmanship that comes out of these small contractors. It's a fairly serious situation," he said.

Newton added that a grading system would provide protection to potential clients from small contractors with little experience and a lack of correct resources to execute projects of a certain size.

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