News: Corps of Engineers recognizes top construction firms
Story by Mark Rankin
KABUL, Afghanistan – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers honored the top construction companies in northern Afghanistan during the Second Annual Contractors Recognition Awards ceremony at the Inter-continental Hotel Feb. 26, 2012.
The event was presented by the Afghanistan Builders Association and was attended by nearly 250 engineering and building professionals doing business in the northern portion of the country. The Oscars-style event provided a rare opportunity for business leaders of the country’s emerging construction sector to come together to network and build professional relationships.
“I appreciate this opportunity to recognize excellence in construction,” said U.S. Army Col. Christopher Martin, the commander of the Corps of Engineers’ district in northern Afghanistan. “Our goal is to ensure that Afghanistan remains a strong and proud country and a strong construction industry is important for the future of Afghanistan.”
Martin and Afghanistan Builders Association president Naeem Yassin presented awards to more than 30 companies in nine categories.
The categories reflected the Corps of Engineers’ two primary missions in Afghanistan: build high-quality infrastructure projects to house and support Afghanistan National Army, Afghanistan National Police and coalition forces and teach construction, engineering and business management skills to Afghan workers.
Corps of Engineers officials identified two to nine companies as finalists in each category. The top award, contractor of the year, was presented to Ishan Qurat and Prime Projects International JV, which best exemplified both quality construction and capacity development during 2011.
Virtually all of the companies that were recognized have steadily expanded their portfolios of work in Afghanistan during the past several years as Afghan and coalition military forces have reduced the economically crippling influence of insurgents throughout the country.
One of the biggest winners of the evening, Ishan Qurat and Prime Projects International JV, credits its success by raising the skill levels of its Afghan workers and according to Imran Azim Butt, vice president, the firm put a tremendous amount of effort in its capacity program and broadened their local presence at various agencies throughout Afghanistan.
“We worked hard and it has showed,” said Butt. “We increased our Afghan workers skill levels through training and it made a difference in the quality of our work. We have fast-paced projects and thank our workers for their hard work."
He said, "Afghanistan is a very hard place to do business. The weather, security and safety are very potential massive problems here so we are grateful for our work we have done with the Corps of Engineers,” Butts.
Maintaining worksite safety also is a major consideration for doing business in Afghanistan, he said. Most of the country’s laborers are unskilled and inexperienced, so constant supervision is required to ensure workers follow safety protocols as they learn construction trades through the Ishan Qurat and Prime Projects International JV’s on-the-job-training program.
“Our capacity program was the key this year,” said Butts. “Our goal was to raise everyone’s skill levels and we did that.”
Ishan Qurat and Prime Projects International JV picked up three awards during the ceremony. The company won the capacity development, design/build contractor of the year and contractor of the year categories.
Ahmad Khalid, an executive with Afghan Builders Consortium, a Kabul-based construction firm, said his company followed a similar path of expansion. The company got its first job with the Corps of Engineers in 2006 and is happy with construction and doing well.
“We started with very small construction projects and then step by step, we got other projects. He said the key to doing good quality work is training. If you have a project with poor quality, that will be your final project,” Khalid said.
Afghan Builders Consortium won an award in the excellence in construction category.
Likewise, Z-plus of Kabul, won an award in the best new contractor of the Year category. The company currently has three jobs awarded by the Corps of Engineers.
“We are doing well and credits their success to training,” said company vice president Zakia Wardak.
She credits that by adhering to the construction schedule, training and employing highly qualified workers are the most important aspects of performing work for the Corps of Engineers.
“We are always thinking of improving our training and projects,” said Wardak.
The concept of presenting professional awards to construction companies in Afghanistan was a success last year, and was well received by the country’s construction executives, Yassin said. The awards are again certain to foster a greater sense of competition among the companies, which will benefit Afghanistan’s overall construction region.
ABA president Naeem Yassin said 2011 was a celebrated year for its partnership with USACE. He appreciates the strong partnership and credits its success to all wanting to make Afghanistan a better country.
“We are glad to be partners with USACE,” said Yassin. “Because of our close relationship we are able to provide construction companies with knowledge and training to provide quality work that benefits the future of Afghanistan.”
“It was a good evening for everyone,” said Yassin.
The president of the Afghanistan Builders Association said he hopes – and expects – that Afghan companies will be even more successful against their international professional rivals in next year’s event.
International Contractor of the Year: Ishan Qurat and Prime Projects International JV
Afghan Contractor of the Year: Jamal Aziz Construction and Engineering Company (JACEC).
Best New Contractor of the Year: Z-PLUS Construction Company
Women Owned Business of the Year: Eagle AA Construction
International Design/Build Company of the Year: Ihsan Qudrat & Prime Projects International Ltd JV (IQPPI).
Afghan Design/Build Company of the Year: Omran Consulting Construction & Engineering
International Military Construction Contractor of the Year: Yuksel Insaat A.S.
International Excellence in Construction Award: Afghan Builder’s Consortium
Afghan Excellence in Construction Award: Yuksel Insaat A.S.
International Safety Performance Award: Technologists Inc
Afghan Safety Performance Award: Asian Atlas Construction and Engineering Network (ACEN)
International Capacity Development Award: Ihsan Qudrat & Prime Projects International Ltd JV (IQPPI).
Afghan Capacity Development Award: Jamal Aziz Construction and Engineering Company (JACEC).