In 2002 Remko Stiekema joined the Dutch Boskalis organization as a superintendent. Since then, Remko has worked on numerous Dutch projects, large and small. “I liked the work from day one. Boskalis is a really pleasant company,” he says.
What are the main tasks of a chief superintendent working in large-scale earthmoving?
“Even children love to play with sand, and I still love it. Dry earthmoving really is my specialism. As the Chief Superintendent, you work out the ideal sequencing of the earthworks during the preparation phase of a project. Then it’s a question of organizing all the operations properly. You keep an eye on the broad picture, you supervise the Superintendents and you make sure that you are always prepared for the next phase of the work. Earthmoving is much more than just dumping piles of sand. There are all sorts of protocols for soil settlement and environmental factors. The challenge is to complete each project on time and within budget, to comply with all the requirements and save costs.”
Boskalis is a really pleasant company
How did you end up working on the large international project in Duqm?
“I have three children and when they got older, I said I wanted to work on a project abroad and that turned out to be Duqm. The fact that, as the earthmoving discipline from Boskalis Nederland, we are participating in such a major international project is unique. This project is an enormous adventure for everybody involved. It was only when I arrived in Oman that I realized how much is involved in such a major international operation. Just take the number of permits, visa applications and customs formalities, the enormous mobilization operations and the amounts of material that we bring here by ship and even by plane.”
Do you see any similarities between the Duqm project and your previous projects in the Netherlands?
“My last project in the Netherlands was the construction of the A4 road between Delft and Schiedam. That was a wonderful combined project that involved a wide range of Boskalis disciplines. You see a similar variety in the Duqm project. That’s a clear similarity. On multidisciplinary projects, it’s crucial for all the business units to collaborate as well as possible and that is working excellently here at all levels. Thanks to that teamwork, we are achieving a fantastic result here. And you can see that everyone is really eager to make a success of it.”
To what extent do the conditions in Duqm differ from projects in the Netherlands?
“It’s not just the heat: almost all the conditions are different. In the Netherlands, we often work in soft peat soil; here, we use heavy D9 bulldozers with ripper teeth to loosen up the ground. It’s a colossal job in every respect. We constructed a huge temporary ring dike to build quay walls and jetties in a vast polder some twenty meters below sea level. Following the completion of the construction works we removed the entire dike again. We are doing all this in the context of a different culture, with large numbers of local colleagues who we sometimes had to train from scratch.”