x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Surveyors' visits surprise residents

Pre-construction checks look into condition of buildings along Abu Dhabi's Al Salam Street eight-lane tunnel as deep excavation gets under way.

The extensive roadworks on Al Salam Street will cost Dh5 billion.
The extensive roadworks on Al Salam Street will cost Dh5 billion.

ABU DHABI // Residents and business owners along Salam Street have been receiving surprise visits from surveyors who are checking for cracks in buildings. Surveyors from Encardio-Rite Geosystems LLC have been doing a "pre-construction building condition" survey for the past two months on behalf of Abu Dhabi Municipality.

The survey includes inspecting flats for any existing damage and photographing it, as workers prepare to begin deep excavation work for a 3.2km, eight-lane tunnel being built from Al Falah Street to Al Meena Road near Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, at an estimated cost of Dh3.1billion (US$844m). Businesses have complained that the work, expected to be completed by October 2010, has caused a dip in sales as customers are avoiding the adjacent roadworks. Residents, meanwhile, say the heavy machinery keeps them awake at night.

Michel el Hajj, of Louis Berger Group, the company managing the Dh5bn Salam Street project, said every building within 100 metres of the construction area was being checked. The surveys, he said, were to protect building owners and contractors in case of disputes arising concerning any alleged damage to a building, and were standard procedure around the world. He did not expect the deep excavation work to affect the buildings and said the surveys were simply an extra precaution.

Diaphragm walls have been built at the site of the digging to protect buildings. "We are putting them in so that, when we excavate, we can excavate safely," he said. When completed, the project will double the capacity of Salam Street to more than 6,000 vehicles per hour and allow motorists to drive from Al Meena to the Sheikh Zayed Bridge without meeting a traffic signal. Residents and businesses at the Arzanah Towers building near the junction of Sheikh Zayed the First Street and Salam said yesterday that surveyors had presented them with letters of No Objection signed by building management on Monday.

"They came yesterday and finished very quickly," said Basilia Tomlins, who has lived on the 13th floor for the past nine years. "They said they were just checking the walls for cracks in the foundation." Mrs Tomlins, 36, said the contractor told her the building was still sound and left after five minutes. Yasin Allam, an accountant with Middle East Motors on the mezzanine floor, also said a contractor inspected the office walls for cracks on Monday and found no problems.

However, they had noted down several minor cracks on the third residential floor. There are some cracks in the walls of Mohammed al Shamouty's flat, but the 15-year-old, who has lived in the building for the past nine years, said he was not worried that any of the roadwork nearby would affect his building. "They're just cracks. It's not like it's going to knock down the building," he said. The dust swirling up from the construction site was the main nuisance, said Loretta F, who works for one of the businesses on the first floor of the building.

"We are carrying the dust on our bodies and clothes when we come into the office," she said. "Sometimes we cannot see, it is so blurry." mchung@thenational.ae mkwong@thenational.ae