The collapse of a Saudi crane in the holy city of Mecca that claimed the lives of over 100 people over the weekend has revealed an ugly side of the worldwide construction boom. Shocking scenes recorded by local Saudis show that health and safety is of little-to-no concern for those who are responsible for building up the ancient city.
For the last few years especially, residents of the city of Mecca have been forced to accept unrelenting construction work as Saudi leaders attempt to expand the city into a bustling metropolis envied the world over.
As development has been on the rise, so too has the number of incidents, casualties and fatalities involving construction workers and bystanders, indicating a dangerous lack of health and safety precaution within the industry.
The Executive Director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, Dr Irfan al-Alawi, commented on the crane accident and the overall issue with safety, saying “It is a tragedy what has happened, but it didn’t come as a surprise. There have been many accidents. Last the last few floors of a building being constructed right next to the clock tower caught fire and they had to call the fire engine from Taif, which is about 45 mins away, to help extinguish it.”
“There is no health and safety system in place. In London when you have construction work the public are kept away, but in Mecca machinery is deployed in areas accessible to the public. There are not enough volunteers looking to check children do not go into the dangerous areas. Even some of the engineers don’t have safety gear, helmets or gloves to wear, because it is very hot, summer time temperatures 45C.”
Amateur videos of demolition work in Mecca posted on YouTube show the sheer scale of the dangers workers and locals are being exposed to every day at the hands of a poorly managed construction industry. Take a look below, they speak volumes: