Alert Level 3 might save teetering construction companies

25th May 2020 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Contributing Editor and Photographer

Construction companies that are on the verge of collapse after having shuttered operations during alert levels 4 and 5 of the national Covid-19 lockdown might now be saved with a move to Alert Level 3 when construction is permitted to resume, says Construction Covid-19 Rapid Response Task Team chairperson John Matthews.

South Africa will move from Alert Level 4, to Level 3 on June 1, with the resumption of large-scale economic activity that includes construction.

The Construction Covid-19 Rapid Response Task Team is an industry grouping that was convened to charter a recovery plan for the construction sector. It incorporates the entire construction value chain covering suppliers, manufacturers, property developers, built environment professionals and contractors.

As one of the major economic contributors to the economy and because of construction work being largely labour-intensive, the industry has been touted as one of the sectors that the government should prioritise to increase work opportunities and revive the South African economy.

Matthews says the task team is optimistic that in enabling the construction sector to resume full operations, the industry will be able to salvage what is left of it. “We are pleased that the government gave consideration to the concerns we raised and agreed to a full re-activation of the sector under Alert Level 3.”

He explains that continued restraint on construction activity during alert levels 4 and 5 was leading to a situation where there was little hope of recovery for many companies in the industry.

On measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 on construction sites, Matthews notes that there was a need for companies to adhere to the strict health and safety protocols that were already in place, for protection of employees.

He highlights the need for self-regulation by all employers in the industry, emphasising the call by President Cyril Ramaphosa that combating the spread of the disease was in the hands of everyone.

He adds that it is not the responsibility of government to try and monitor every office and construction site, but instead that it is the responsibility of each and every employer to ensure that the health and safety of employees is guaranteed.

“The industry has health and safety protocols already in place and any employer in the sector who needs assistance should contact their Association for guidance and support.”