Speaker Kang Praises Global Top Builder Hanwha E&C’s Bismayah New City Project in Iraq
A model for the creative economy by allowing small firms to participate in building 100,000 homes
Speaker Kang Chang-hee of the National Assembly and his entourage are surrounded by officers and staff of
Hanwha E&C and its local officers as they toured the Bismayah New Town Project in Iraq, following the speaker’s call
on Iraqi Prime Minister al Maliki at his residence in Baghdad, Iraq, on June 13.(Photo:Hanwha E&C)
National Assembly Speaker Kang Chang-hee and his entourage visited the Bismayah New City construction project site some 10 km southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, on a leg of his trip to Africa on June 13. During his visit to Iraq, he called on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki and was briefed on the importance of the Bismayah New City project from the prime minister who said the $8 billion project is not only crucial to Hanwha E&C, but to the Iraqi government as well. Maliki added that the government has been doing its best to see that the project is completed on time and without a hitch because Bismayah is the first stage of a number of projects to follow.
The Iraqi premier also revealed that the Iraqi government plans to spend 300 trillion won to rebuild Iraq from the devastation wrought during the war, and Korean companies, especially construction firms, were invited to participate in the rebuilding projects, expressing his deep satisfaction with what Hanwha E&C has been doing so far. According to the National Investment Commission (NIC) of Iraq and KOTRA, Iraq’s rebuilding would need some $275 billion including $80 billion for housing construction and $46 billion for other infrastructure. The speaker and his entourage shared a lunch with 400 workers at the work site guided by Hanwha E& C Vice Chairman Kim Hyun-joong. He said at the lunch that the Bismayah New City construction project can be a model of the Creative Economy as pushed by the Park government because it creates many jobs. The speaker went on to note that the project will give jobs to 550,000 workers until its completion and is a significant example of what the new government in Korea would like to realize through the creative economy since the project will also have a positive impact on the development of other related industries. He also lauded Hanwha E&C for capturing the huge Bismayah project because it will pave the way for other Korean builders to follow suit and win big construction projects in Iraq and other Middle East countries, adding that the world has a big surprise coming when the mammoth Bismayah project is completed seven years from now as it will show the prowess of Korean builders. The speaker and his company toured the entire project site extending for over 20 km, as well as the plants that produce the construction materials at the site.
What the speaker and his company saw were a number of bulldozers and other heavy equipment being mobilized on the site under scorching heat hovering around 50 degrees Centigrade and workers dripping wet with sweat.
Hanwha E&C clinched the mammoth project in May 2012 under Chairman Kim’s global management strategy and his strong leadership. Hanwha E&C officials admitted that they are now at a loss on how to go about capturing more rebuilding projects in Iraq without the chairman in command, and their chairman’s activity is much needed, fearing competition from Chinese and Turkish rival builders. The chairman has close connections with a number of key government officials in Iraq, including Premier al Maliki.
The project is to be completed in 2020, including all infrastructure such as water supply and drainage systems. The project is the largest single project ever won by a Korean builder overseas and it accounted for 12 percent of total overseas construction projects won by Korean builders last year. The new town is to be built on a site of 18.3 million m2 – just a little smaller than Bundang City in Gyeonggi Province, Korea — with 600,000 residents to be housed in the 100,000 new homes to be built.
Currently, 26,000 workers work daily pouring 6,400 tons of concrete for the project’s cement slabs used in the walls and roofs of those houses, which if laid side by side would extend 13,000 km in total length – almost long enough to stretch from Baghdad to Seoul and back.
Chairman Sami al Araji of the NIC, who accompanied the speaker on his visit to the Bismayah New City project site, said they plans to build 1 million houses in the future and the Bismayah New City project is only the first of a number of similar projects to be ordered by the Iraqi government and the NIC.
The residential houses will be built from early next year – 20,000 houses every year until 2020, the completion target of the project. Around 100 small and medium-sized firms are expected to join the project with some 1,000 workers, making the huge project a chance for mutual survival among small and large construction firms and also a breakthrough point from the downturn in housing construction that started with the 2008 financial crisis.