The Covid-19 outbreak in South Africa accelerated to 116 confirmed cases by Wednesday morning, out of more than 3 000 people tested for the virus since Sunday, which is increasingly nudging the construction industry to reconsider its “wait-and-see” approach and start implementing impact-mitigating measures, says the Construction Management Foundation (CMF).
The CMF adds that the entire construction supply chain, including main contractors, subcontractors, consultants and material suppliers, will suffer commercial impacts as a result of the virus.
The foundation has set up an advisory contact centre made up of experienced industry leaders that have volunteered their services to assist emerging contractors with information and advice on construction contracts and other commercial related issues.
The foundation can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org in this regard.
“The [virus outbreak] situation means the industry needs to take bold measures that support government efforts to contain the spread of the virus and create collaborative mechanisms together with clients to better share risks that might negatively affect construction projects,” the foundation states.
It recommends that companies within the construction industry increase or improve their hygiene practices in the workplace and for employees, increase communication with stakeholders, liaise with clients on contingency arrangements, review contractual arrangements to understand options now and in future, and liaise with funders and banks to secure sufficient credit.
Additionally, the foundation advises companies to set up project specific communication networks with their supply chains, review safety elements of their projects, review construction programmes, ensure remote access is in place and allow those with the ability to work from home to do so, while cancelling or moving meetings to conference calls.
The CMF further calls on major employer associations in the industry to engage with government and participate in National Economic Development and Labour Council structures to highlight industry challenges that may affect their members.
The foundation plans to, in the course of the next few weeks, call for both public and private sector clients and stakeholders to provide guidance on force majeure and other contractual clauses for the entire supply chain for different contracts; call on the public sector infrastructure departments and State-owned entities to provide clarity on its contracts; and call on government to identify safety-critical work on the infrastructure network that is essential and must be continued, and paid for, promptly.
The CMF will also, together with key stakeholders, conduct an industry survey with some contractors and consultancies to understand exactly how the virus outbreak is impacting on their operations.
The results of the survey will be shared with government and other stakeholders to provide more information to guide decision-making during this slowdown period.