Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Ghosts of Gabon

I’ve recently taken up assignment with a multinational EPC firm in West Africa. The opportunity to explore construction means and methods in such a remote part of the world, where virtually all equipment and supplies are imported, has provided many opportunities for reflection. Highest among those is the proliferation of unfinished projects in the capital city of Libreville, Gabon.
Abandoned Sheraton Project
 Hulking shells of never-finished hotels and half-finished houses pepper the main highway and dot the shanty towns of Libreville in a curious intersection of political intrigue and construction management. It is common here for contractors to be given hefty down payments for their services at the beginning of the project with no guarantee that construction will even be finished. Complicating this matter is the fact that the central government only allocates funds for a project once per year. Depending on the political winds, this may mean that a multi-year job only gets partial funding. The result is a glut leftover and stalled projects creating a massive urban blight on the capital. 

Abandoned Urban Office Structure

Abandoned Housing Project

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