Construction Industry Badly Hit by Covid-19, Chalks Up Huge Losses

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Covid-19 pandemic has left a lasting scar on the construction industry with suspension, delays and cost overruns of projects. This has been made worse with about 4,000 infections recorded at various worksites as of Dec 21, thus making it extremely vulnerable.

Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) records show that the value of construction projects awarded fell 42% to RM55.3 billion for the period of January to October 2020 compared with RM94.6 billion in the same period last year.

Its chief executive, Ahmad ‘Asri Abdul Hamid, said it was also estimated that the construction industry experienced losses of about RM11.6 billion between March 18 (when the movement control order began) and April 14 this year, and another RM6.9 billion following the reopening of 13 sub-sectors from April 15 to May 1, 2020.

“The losses were estimated from the value of salaries, building materials, machinery rentals, project management and profit when the industry was not allowed to operate,” he told Bernama.

With this current spike in cases at construction sites, Ahmad ‘Asri said CIDB had increased site monitoring and inspection across the country through the inter-agency construction site enforcement committee.

It includes other agencies such as the Department of Occupational Safety and Health, Public Works Department, Labour Department and the local authorities.

“Critical aspects to look at when dealing with Covid-19 spread at sites are the condition of the construction sites, worker accommodation and their movement from one site to another.

“In fact, the movement of workers between construction sites has been identified as the main cause of transmission at construction sites. Cluster Damanlela is an example of this, whereby five construction projects were affected,” he said.

Ahmad ‘Asri said the 2021 budget allocation of RM15 billion for key infrastructure projects was indeed a much-welcomed move as it would definitely give a boost for the construction industry to recover from the slowdown experienced because of the Covid-19 pandemic and movement control order.

He said the best way for the construction industry to move forward post-Covid-19 is to ensure that contractors are no longer reliant on a foreign workforce.

“The pandemic has shown that the construction sector is too heavily reliant on unskilled foreign labour because of low technology adoption.

“The construction industry players need to adopt technology such as industrialised building systems, mechanisation and automation to enhance the quality, safety, sustainability and productivity of their construction projects.

“By doing this, they will be able to attract more skilled local workers and increase their productivity,” he said.


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