The Construction Covid-19 Rapid Response Task Team has made a submission to government motivating for the construction sector to be reactivated, starting immediately with live construction sites.
The task team was established to represent major organisations in the sector including contractors, property developers, construction professionals, suppliers and service providers during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The team says the construction sector has the potential to create employment opportunities to cushion the impact of an anticipated increase in unemployment in the immediate aftermath of the lockdown. Therefore, the submission is calling for an immediate re-activation of live construction sites that were at various stages of completion when the lockdown came into effect on March 27.
The submission then suggests a phased re-opening of the industry in May. The task team has already identified sites that are ready for immediate activation.
The construction industry’s submission involves a detailed Covid-19 Risk and Mitigation Plan, which has been submitted to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure as part of the motivation for a phased re-opening. This includes a requirement for every company that is to be considered for re-opening to present a suitable operational plan to prevent transmission of the infection.
Task team chairperson John Matthews says the lockdown has been helpful in preventing cases of occupationally-acquired infections on construction sites. He also says the lockdown period provided the industry an opportunity to augment existing health and safety systems in the construction industry in view of the threat posed by the pandemic.
However, some critical infrastructure projects can suffer irrecoverable damages, and mean that there will not be any sites left to return to when the lockdown is eventually lifted. “Hence the call for immediate re-activation of work on live construction sites and for the resumption of professional planning, costing and design work that supports such work,” says Matthews.
The industry was already facing major challenges before Covid-19, including lack of work, late and non-payment, and uncontrolled illegal construction site invasions.