Hyundai Engineering and Construction (HDEC) has become the first South Korean company to win a construction order in war-torn Iraq, inspiring the government and other local contractors to make fast moves to participate in the reconstruction projects.
HDEC announced on Monday that it received a $220-million order from the Coalition Provisional Authority Program Management Office in Iraq to reconstruct the war-ravaged Middle East country.
The order is a part of a $1.1-billion contract that the U.S. construction company Washington Group International received early last month. Hyundai participated in a bid for a $5-billion reconstruction project in Iraq early last month as a partner of Washington Group.
With the order HDEC will rebuild dams and irrigation facilities across Iraq and power distribution facilities in the north of the country, whose construction work will start in May. HDEC said it expects to win additional orders worth $160 million, including repair work on power plants, from the Middle Eastern nation.
HDEC returns to Iraq for the first time in 15 years after it withdrew during the Gulf War in 1990, which raised hopes for the company to get back the uncollected amount of some $1.1 billion for its business from Iraq in the near future, a HDEC official said.
Other local contractors are making their moves to partake in reconstruction projects in the Middle East.
SK Engineering and Construction is in a bid for an oil refinery and chemical plant in Baghdad, while Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction is focusing on winning orders in electricity reconnection projects. Other firms are planning to establish local offices there.
The Ministry of Construction and Transportation (MOCT) is also devising supportive measures for the local contractors to expand joining the reconstruction projects and to gather uncollected debts.
MOCT will dispatch its officials to the embassy there while making efforts to establish and maintain friendly relations with officials there.
Especially, MOCT is finding ways for the local firms to build such humane purpose buildings as schools, hospitals and vocational training schools at the venue where the Korean army will be deployed.
``To increase the local companies` participation in the reconstruction project, the government is considering to send government officials to the Korean embassy there and the Program Management Office,`` a MOCT official said. ``Also, preventive measures against possible terrors will be arranged.``
So far, the local contractors won $954 million worth of 20 overseas construction orders this year. The cases decreased from 29 cases for the corresponding period last year, but the amount surged 65.3 percent, according to the government.