News out of Yemen is rarely good. Since hostilities broke out in 2014, some 233,000 people have died, including from lack of food, health services and infrastructure, according to the UN.
The conflict has destroyed critical road links, making the basic movement of people and goods between the country’s northern and southern governorates extremely difficult, adding to the humanitarian crisis.
HSA hired 250 workers from the area to secure local support and create jobs
But people are not giving up. Last year, Hayel Saeed Anam Group (HSA), the country’s biggest private conglomerate, rebuilt and widened a dangerous, 18km-long back-roads route which, owing to the closure of the Al Kirsh main road, had become the only way to travel between the three major governates of Taiz, Lahj and Aden. HSA funded the project itself.
In poor condition, prone to flooding, and in places too narrow for vehicles to pass each other, the route was more of an extreme obstacle course than a road. Breakdowns and accidents could leave the road blocked and drivers stranded for days as they waited for rescue or repairs.
Crews had to work through a series of major rainstorms
Also stranded would be the vital supplies trucks were carrying.
HSA got in touch with GCR to share information and photographs of the three-month project that completed in April last year. The work, which included widening the whole route to 8.5m – up from just 2.5m in some places – was undertaken by Al-Saeed Co. for Manufacturing Concrete & Contracting, an HSA Group operating company.
HSA instigated the project with an investment of $2m. It hired 250 workers from the area to secure local support for the project and create jobs.
The route traversed mountainous areas where unsteady stone walls and frequent rockfalls created logistical difficulties
As well as widening the road, the project involved:
- Removing old rocks and waste;
- Applying a base course layer;
- Spraying and compaction;
- Paving watersheds and basins for rainfalls and water streams;
- Building retaining walls and repairing aqueducts;
- Laying driveway kerb stones;
- Repairing U-turns;
- Mixing and pouring high-quality concrete jersey barriers, foundations, and reinforced concrete beams.
A particular challenge was the section at Dhamran, a mountainous area where unsteady stone walls and frequent rockfalls created logistical difficulties for the workers.
Work was limited to 10 hours a day so the road could stay open for vital freight amid the humanitarian crisis
The project team also had to manage difficult weather conditions, working through a series of major rainstorms.
Because the road had to be kept open for cargo and passenger traffic for part of each day, work shifts were limited to 10 hours.
Breakdowns and accidents on the old route could leave the road blocked and drivers stranded for days as they waited for rescue or repairs
Now it is done, HSA says the project has significantly reduced car accidents on the route, ending the daily disruptions for passengers, reconnecting remote villages and ensuring a safer passage for cargo.
Maamoun Yafi, chief communications officer for HSA Yemen said: “Today, hundreds of thousands of passengers, including women and children, are able to have a safer and less arduous journey between the Taiz, Lahi and Aden governorates in Yemen.
The project ended the daily disruptions for passengers, reconnected remote villages and ensured safer passage for cargo
“Our investment has helped to boost Yemen’s economy, creating 250 jobs and easing the flow of food and essential goods between major cities. This project is an example of HSA’s commitment to Yemeni communities, upholding our core values of doing well by doing good.”
Images courtesy of HSA