Construction entity costs rise due to shutdown | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Construction entity costs rise due to shutdown

29 August, 2021

The construction sector, a pivotal cog of the economy, has been severely battered by the global pandemic that has brought work at some construction sites to a stand-still leaving dependents in a tight corner.

Low attendance, shutting down of project sites, health and worker welfare measures have added on to the cost of construction companies which have been forced to shift deadlines for completion of work. Tudawe Brothers (Pvt) Ltd. Chairman and Managing Director Rohan Tudawe said that  shutting down of project sites,  health tests on workers, low attendance  and  productivity  have soared up construction costs of the company which is not reimbursable.

“Long distant workers do not return to work as they are being discouraged by families due to the high possibility of being exposed to the killer-virus,” Tudawe said, adding that  the bread-winner is not allowed to leave home if a family member gets infected or suspected of having contracted the virus.  He said transport of building materials due to limitations on sourcing  and cross border movement restriction  have stifled the progress of work on projects. “The dearth of construction workers is an issue that must be addressed at grassroots level while skill and craft development should commence from school  in addition or even as a substitute to science practical classes in laboratories.

“Similar workshops in electrical, mechanical, civil with structural engineering modeling classes should be conducted so that by the time they are at the end of their teens they could be registered or  licensed fitters of their trades,” Tudawe aid.

He said whoever reaches a high competency level would be eligible to follow a higher national Diploma in their fields and professions. Tudawe also said students could be trained to be entrepreneurs, self-employed and be specialised in their fields such as licensed bricklayer, tile layer, finishing outfitter ( polisher / painter).

“Once they are competent  they could be sub contractors  and then specialised/ professional tradesman,” Tudawe said, adding that the biggest drawback is the uncertainty in the industry which could be overcome by government and the private sector developing a vibrant  and competent formalised sub or specialised sub-contracting sector taking a cue from countries doing it. He said the current system of “informal sub-contracting” must be done away with the promotion of specialized or formalised sub-contracting which will help the industry to have a reliable and steady work force to meet the growing demand for workers in the sector. Tudawe Brothers is among the oldest construction companies in Sri Lanka which provides end-to-end solutions for residential and housing complexes, foreign missions, offices, shopping complexes, hostels, hotels, hospitals, educational institutions, highways, bridges, water supply and drainage, irrigation, land storm water drainage and other infrastructural work. The construction sector contributed around 7.4 percent of the country’s GDP in 2019, employing around 600,000 workers. The sector has expanded rapidly in developing high-end residential, commercial space, hotel and resort construction, and infrastructure since the end of the battle against terrorism in 2009.

Despite being a key driver of economic growth the construction industry is not without problems. 

The acute shortage of construction craftsmen and a formalized sub-contracting sector with competent workers have impeded growth of the sector.

The construction sector accounts for 6% of global GDP and is considered to be a powerful stimulant for economic growth.  

Inconsistencies in system and procedures adopted by the government ministries, discrepancies between works procurement guidelines and CIDA ‘Standard bidding documents’, bureaucratic delay, unrealistic total cost estimates, retention money and performance bond in the conditions of contract, delay in payments, unfair liquidated damages, low ranking in the ease of doing business index are some of the issues faced by construction contractors in interacting with Government authorities.