5 delayed construction megaprojects from around the world
25 September 2023
Even the most ambitious construction projects face difficulty along the way. International Construction takes a look at five of the world’s delayed construction megaprojects and the barriers that prevented them from completing on time.
Navi Mumbai International Airport
Where? Mumbai, India
How long has it been delayed? 30 years
Designed by Zaha Hadid architects, The Navi Mumbai International Airport project was initially proposed in 1997. Despite receiving approval in 2008, the project has faced significant obstacles, primarily from conflicts between various government departments.
There have been disputes over the airport project’s location, concerns surrounding the environmental impact, and disagreements among India’s Civil Aviation ministers.
The state had hoped to launch the airport’s first flight in December 2020, but construction of the runway had not yet started by the end of 2019 due to nearby residents’ reluctance to relocate.
The project has also been hindered by financial challenges, causing the initial budget of US$692 million to balloon to US$2.1 billion. Moreover, construction was again temporarily halted due to the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, further elongating the project’s timeline.
The most current projection indicates that the first phase of the airport is expected to achieve full functionality by December 2024, nearly thirty years after its initial proposal.
Stuttgart 21 Rail
Where? Stuttgart, Germany
How long has it been delayed? 6 years
The project in southern Germany has faced controversy since its inception. Construction of the project, estimated to cost €2.5 billion, was announced in 1994 but did not commence until 2010.
Rising construction costs and stringent environmental regulations, including relocating thousands of lizards in 2017, have led to delays in constructing the expansive new train station and several associated tunnels. These structures are located approximately 50 miles away from the railway tracks.
The original completion target of 2019 proved unattainable, and expenses have continued to escalate uncontrollably. The project is now expected to be finalized by late 2025, with costs surging further to €9.15 billion due to higher pricing and increased geological risks.
Hinkley Point C
Where? Somerset, England
How long has it been delayed? 2 years
In 2016, the UK government granted approval for the establishment of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.
However, the financial aspect of this contentious megaproject continues to escalate. Initially, in 2016, EDF Energy disclosed an estimated cost of £18 billion ($23 billion) for the project. This figure has undergone numerous revisions, with some projections now hinting at a staggering £32 billion ($39 billion) price tag.
In addition to its fiscal challenges, Hinkley Point C has encountered delays in its schedule. The foundational concrete for the first reactor reached completion in June 2019, while the second reactor’s base was successfully finished on schedule during the summer of 2020.
The onset of construction delays can be partly attributed to the pandemic, which necessitated work suspension to adhere to social distancing protocols. By May 2022, EDF extended the deadline to 2027, attributing the delay to shortages in labor and escalating inflation.
Gulf Railway Line
Where? Middle East
How long has it been delayed? TBC
Once finalized, the Gulf Railway Line is set to interlink the six member nations of the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC), namely the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain.
Spanning a total distance of 1,353 miles (2,177 km), each respective member state is responsible for the construction efforts within its own territory. The project’s conception gained approval in 2009, with initial projections indicating a budget of approximately US$14 billion (£10.5 billion) and a targeted operational commencement by 2018.
Nevertheless, the situation hasn’t unfolded as expected. As of 2016, a number of partner nations had halted progress on their respective initiatives due to insufficient funds, a consequence of the sharp decline in oil prices between 2014 and 2015.
Dr. Sulaiman al-Hamdan, the Minister for Transport in Saudi Arabia during that period, declared that a considerable segment of the project within his nation had reached completion. However, contradictory reports indicated that the construction endeavors had not yet started.
Vogtle Electric Generating Plant
Where? Georgia, USA
How long has it been delayed? 7 years
The Vogtle Electric Generating Plant functions as a nuclear power facility that commenced its operations during the 1980s. The initial two units of the plant encompass a pressurized water reactor, steam turbine, and electric generator, collectively producing a substantial 2,430 megawatts of electricity.
Despite receiving approval for these plans in 2009, the advancement has been characterised by sluggishness and high costs.
The original timeline, as per the blueprints, anticipated the commissioning of Unit 3 by 2016, followed by the activation of Unit 4 in 2017. However, the catastrophic Fukushima incident in Japan in 2011 led to a halting of progress.
Additionally, safety concerns prompted anti-nuclear activists to initiate a legal case against the plant. Compounding the challenges, the overseeing entity, Westinghouse, responsible for the comprehensive design, engineering, and management of the colossal undertaking, faced bankruptcy in 2017.
Current projections indicate that Unit 3 is set to be operational by June 2023, with its reactor slated to join the electricity grid in early April. Meanwhile, Unit 4 is currently undergoing testing and is anticipated to be operational no later than 2024.