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Construction Issue

Construction issue: Miscalculation of the rate of settlement

Construction of buildings can only begin on a piece of reclaimed land after the fill material has settled and the ground has consolidated. The reclamation process may be lengthened due to miscalculation of the settlement rate or, as in the case of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, the need for additional reinforcement after settlement. Negligence related to ground settlement can even lead to safety issues. For instance, Johor’s Forest City was alleged to have started construction before settlement was completed, resulting in cracks in the buildings on the artificial island. Land subsidence may also occur at a greater extent than expected.

Key Examples

1. [Forest City]

(Johor, Malaysia)

The developer boasted the quick completion of the reclamation project, but there were cracks in the buildings erected on the island, along with the problems of road and land subsidence. Experts blamed that the constructions were carried out on land that had not been completely settled, thus raising safety concerns222

2. [Palm Jumeirah]

(Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

Upon completion of reclamation in 2003, the ground of Palm Jumeirah was found to be inadequate in supporting all the structures it had planned to establish. The ground had to be reinforced by vibro-compacting to densify the soil223. Despite that, NASA satellite images in 2009 has showed that the Palm Jumeirah island had been sinking at a rate of 5mm per year224 225

3. [The World Islands] (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

In 2010, Penguin Marine, the contractor in charge of logistics and transportation services for the World Islands, warned that the islands were sinking. There were media reports that this was due to the gradual loss of marine sand used for building the islands. A satellite image from the International Space Station in February 2010 even showed that the sea level of the Persian Gulf had been indeed rising and the islands were beginning to disappear.226 The project developer, Nakheel, denied all these allegations.