Interview: Saad bin Ahmad Al Muhannadi

Where can the application of smart technologies deliver the most tangible results, both in terms of boosting efficiency and improving worker safety?

SAAD BIN AHMAD AL MUHANNADI: Our programmes, projects and services aim to promote best practices, encourage innovation and adopt new technologies, with a focus on environmental sustainability. We are in the process of introducing several integrated project management systems, including building information modelling – a collaborative method for design, construction and operation using 3D models and tools. Ashghal is also rolling out lean construction principles on a large scale, in order to bring more value and improve project delivery. Under operations and maintenance of our assets, we have established centres to manage the drainage and road networks in order to ensure that long-term information is constantly available across this segment in real time.

Ashghal has also implemented the bridge management system to oversee the operation and maintenance of Qatar’s bridges. The new system will help us transition to online and app-based operations, speed up maintenance planning and produce clearer budget forecasts for upcoming financial years. Additionally, the balanced cantilever method, a proven construction technology, is being used in some expressway projects for the first time in Qatar. The method involves the building as well as assembling of concrete parts on-site without interruption to traffic flow.

In terms of sustainability, we are promoting crumb rubber recycling by using it as a modifier in asphalt concrete mixes for use in road construction projects. This helps to minimise cracking and pavement noise, as well as reducing the amount of tyre debris placed into landfills. Additionally, recycled construction materials such as asphalt waste, demolition waste and iron slag are increasingly being used in road projects to decrease imports of gravel and bitumen imports, thereby reducing production costs. Ashghal uses approximately 60m tonnes of demolition waste in its road construction projects. Furthermore, we are continuously working towards raising the standard of occupational health and safety through the implementation of an effective management system.

How will an intelligent transportation system (ITS) contribute to sustainable development as directed under Qatar National Vision 2030?

AL MUHANNADI: In coordination with the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Transport and Communication and the National Committee for Traffic Safety, Ashghal is leading the development of a national ITS master plan, in order to deliver an integrated multi-modal transport network across the country in line with Qatar National Vision 2030.

While managing and improving the safety, security and efficiency of the road and transportation network, the ITS will engender investment and economic growth in Qatar. This will enable the country to be fully prepared to host international events in the coming years, such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The master plan will provide a framework to adopt ITS technologies and services that safely and efficiently serve Qatar’s citizens and communities, while enabling economic growth.

Ashghal has already implemented ITSs on several of its road projects, and we have initiated a project to design, build and implement an ITS platform for the roads management centre (RMC), known as RMC Software Solutions. This platform will integrate Qatar’s existing road systems, making the RMC the centre for monitoring all road operations and the management of Ashghal assets throughout the whole of the country. Moving forward, we will continue to ensure that roads and transport infrastructure are constructed to the highest standards, incorporating up-to-date ITS and safety practices.