Top industrialists are pressing Saudi authorities for effective measures to speed up infrastructure and construction projects delayed by manpower shortage and other reasons.
A recruitment specialist, however, voiced hope that the crisis would likely end within six months.
Their comments came after local media reported that the exodus of foreign workers, caused by the ongoing campaign against illegal residents, had disrupted government projects worth more than SR100 billion.
Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, president of Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said there are two main reasons for the disruption.
“First, most contractors have been employing illegal workers; second, they were charging less than the market price to clinch deals,” he told Arab News.
“The government should extend the period to implement the projects at least by another year while the Labor Ministry should provide enough number of workers,” he said.
Al-Zamil voiced concern that the number of stalled projects might increase if authorities did not take remedial action.
Abdullah Ridwan, chairman of the contractors committee at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, earlier said that more than 30 percent government projects had been affected by the labor campaign to weed out illegal workers.
Professor Bassam Ghelman of the College of Engineering and Construction at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, estimated the value of stalled government projects during the last three years at SR100 billion from a total of SR1 trillion worth of projects.
Fahd Al-Hammadi, a member of the board of directors of Riyadh Chamber, urged authorities to implement the decisions taken by the Cabinet to solve the problem of stalled projects.
“Ninety days have passed since the Cabinet announced the decision. But it is unfortunate that government departments have not yet implemented it,” Al-Hammadi said, adding that the chamber would continue to press for its implementation.
The Labor Ministry has licensed about 15 recruitment companies to meet labor shortage and many of them have started operating.
“We have received license to recruit 500,000 workers,” said Siddeek Ahmed, CMD of Eram Group, about his Eastern Recruitment Company.
“We’ll supply managers, IT professionals, drilling specialists, engineers, skilled technicians and other workers required by clients across the Kingdom,” he told Arab News.
“This is a transition period, which will be difficult for sometime but within six months the problem will be solved,” he added.