In Follow-up to a Yemen Times  Article Last Week: CONDITION OF OUR ROADS [Archives:1998/44/Business & Economy]

November 2 1998

Engineer Khalid Abdullah Al-Kurshumy, Chairman of the Highways and Bridges General Authority (HBGA), graduated from the USA in 1990. Mr. Kurshumy was appointed as chairman of the HBGA in 1995. 
He is the son of Abdullah Al-Kurshumy, the person who supervised the construction of most of the nation’s roads and highways, given his many years as head of HBGA. 
Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi, Assistant Managing Editor of Yemen Times met Mr. AL-Kurshumy and filed the following interview. Excerpts: 
Q: When was the HBGA established? 
A: The Highways and Bridges General Authority (HBGA) was established in 1972, as part of the Ministry of Labor. It was later integrated with its counterpart in the former South Yemen in 1990, after unification, into the recent body. HBGA is responsible for constructing main highways outside cities and roads connecting cities with villages. 
Q: The road connecting Sanaa, Taiz and Hodeidah is often jammed with traffic nowadays. Do you have any plans to expand it? 
A: This road was the first to be built in Yemen. Our job now is to maintain this network, for it was built according to international standards. Hopefully, Yemen will have the capacity to make it a dual carriage-way, as is happening now in some cities. HBGA has strengthened this road by adding another layer to it, owing to its expected long life-span. 

Q: How do you explain the falling of our roads into disrepair in a relatively very short time? 
A: Roads are usually constructed for life-spans ranging from 10 to 15 years. This is what is done in Yemen. But we can construct a road for 40 or even 50 years. But then the cost increases. The asphalt layer we make is 5 cm, making a road’s life-span 15 years. This is because we are short of money and equipment. So it is defined by our capacity. But we try our best to maintain these roads so that they can last a long time. 
For example, the expected life-span of the road connecting Sanaa and Hodeidah was 6 years, but it has lasted for 28 years. This is actually due to the constant maintenance we are always carrying out. 
But we are not to be blamed when floods destroy the roads. The flash floods of 1996 could not to be stopped. Roads inside cities are the responsibility of the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Urban Planning. 
Q: Recent flash foods have damaged many roads. Have you finished repairing them? 
A: When flash floods and heavy rains destroyed some of the highways and roads in Yemen recently, the HBGA formed an emergency team for repairing and re-opening damaged roads. The roads were not closed for very long, the HBGA emergency team acted quickly to repair damaged parts. 
Hearing the news of the damage, I went myself to inspect the roads hit by the heavy rains. Then engineers were sent to assess the damage. Their reports were sent to the Ministry of Construction and other government bodies. Our main concern at that time was to keep the roads open, which we achieved. 
Q: What are the annual expenses spent on roads? 
A: The annual amount of money allocated for the main highways is around YR 7 billion, including construction and maintenance. 
Q: Who are the main companies in charge of constructing roads in Yemen? 
A: There are several major companies constructing roads in Yemen; the HBGA, Sabaa Contracting Authority, Al- Murshed for Contracting, Al-Gabiry, etc. 
Q: Have you ever rejected any newly built road because it didn’t meet the standards? 
A: The HBGA surely refuses any road that doesn’t meet with international standards and criteria. This applies every time and to every road. The Chinese Company was obliged to reconstruct and asphalt a 30-km stretch of the road connecting Sanaa and Taiz in 1991 at a cost of US $30 million. Any rejected road has to be remade at the contractor’s expenses.