A fire broke out at the construction of the Mall of Qatar on Tuesday the 2nd of April. The mall is being built in the Al-Rayyan area in Doha, next to the site where the World Cup 2022 stadium Ahmed Bin Ali is also under construction.
According to workers at the site that the BWI has been in contact with, the fire started at 2 pm at the entertainment complex section of the mall. The blaze was so intense that it got an entire dome to collapse to the ground. There has not yet been determined if any of the more than 14,000 workers at the site has died or got injured in the incident as all workers were immediately sent home after they were evacuated. At this point, the main contractor, Urbacon Trading and Contracting has not reported any casualties.
The Mall of Qatar is a more than US$800 million project and will be the largest mall in Qatar. It is also being hyped as one of the largest malls around the world. The mall is planned to open this August but the severe damage caused by this incident will take a long time to repair. “This means that the workers will be forced to work round the clock and under uncertain working conditions in order to finish on time”, said Ambet Yuson, general secretary of the BWI.
“This is clearly another case of unsound policy when it comes to safety and health issues at worksites in Qatar. If only the Qatari government heeded our long standing appeal to adopt and implement policy guidelines on occupational safety and health as well as provide us an access to conduct joint inspections with the government representatives and construction companies, risk of fire and other accidents at the work sites could be eliminated”, he added.
The BWI is worried that thousands of workers will now be pressured to go back to the worksite in order to meet the deadline set by the management amidst the onset of summer season in which temperature can go up as high as 50 degrees celsius. We are therefore calling the attention of the management of Mall of Qatar to prioritize the safety and welfare of the workers over beating the deadline for its grand opening.
The cause of fire is now being investigated by the authorities and details will be provided once the investigation is completed according to press reports.