Mecca crane was due to be removed months before accident

17 August 2016

Finance Ministry says it recommended the crane be removed 10 months before the tragedy

Saudi Arabia’s Finance Ministry has said the crane that crashed onto pilgrims at the Mecca Grand Mosque, claiming more than 100 lives in September last year, should have been removed months before the tragedy struck.

The ministry, which represents the government on the Haram expansion projects, says in its report to the kingdom’s Bureau of Investigation & Public Prosecution (BIPP) that it had stopped paying for the expenses of that particular crane 10 months before the accident as it was not required on the site, according to local daily Saudi Gazette.

Three times during the past few months, BIPP has investigated the engineer at the ministry who was responsible for following up with contractor Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) on the progress of the project and releasing payments.

The engineer, who was not named in the report, says he was not responsible for safety measures and had asked the project manager to remove the crane; however, despite assurances, it was not done.

Saudi Arabia has put 14 people, including a billionaire, on trial for the crane tragedy including. Among those facing charges are six Saudi nationals, two Pakistanis, a Canadian, a Jordanian, a Palestinian, an Egyptian, an Emirati and a Filipino. The defendants are accused of negligence, damaging public property and ignoring safety guidelines.

Earlier reports said 170 employees of SGB had been questioned by investigators ahead of the court proceedings. Local Okaz Daily said prosecutors decided not to file charges against 42 others who were under investigation, including 16 members of the Binladin family.

Following the crane accident, SBG was barred from winning new government contracts. The ban was lifted in May by a royal decree, but having been denied the opportunity to win new work for an extended period , SBG was forced to downsize its operations and lay off some 77,000 staff and workers.

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