Construction industry experiences over 25% decline in worker turnout

15 May 2019 12:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Nishel Fernando 

Sri Lanka’s construction sector is experiencing an over 25 percent decline in worker turnout in the aftermath of Easter Sunday attacks, contributing to a considerable productivity loss. 
Access Engineering PLC Managing Director Christopher Joshua told Mirror Business that Access Engineering is experiencing close to 25 percent reduction in worker turnout on average while the figure is higher for the construction industry as a whole. 


“Our worker turnout is relatively fine compared to the industry. We have close to 75 percent worker turnout compared to usual 97-98 percent worker turnout prior to Easter Sunday attacks,” he said.


While acknowledging the need to tighten up security, he noted that some workers have stopped coming for work, and the workers who attend to work sometimes have to leave early due
 to curfew.   


In addition, the industry is also experiencing a decline in worker productivity due to delays in transportation of construction materials and suspension on issuing permits 
for explosives.

“We are now optimising our resources to deal with these developments. In our industry, the employees are working for daily wages which means if there is no work, they have pay. Therefore, in every possible instance, we are trying to carry on with work to support our employees,” he said. 


Joshua said the foreign workers have started report for work now. 


“They were concerned. We don’t have many foreign workers in our sites at the moment. The few who are working with us were concerned and initially they stayed out for a few days. However, they have returned to work,” he said. 


Meanwhile, the construction work at the 100MW Mannar Island wind farm project financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has come to a halt due to security instructions, and the security has been beefed up in the area.


Access Engineering PLC won the sub- contract to construct the sub-structures for wind power turbines for the project by Danish-based Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer.


The substructures were scheduled to be completed within a 16 month period. However, Joshua said that Access Engineering might have to re-consider the contracted time period now. 
“The recent events have to be taken into account to see how best we can deal with them. We are planning a way to resume work by consulting the Navy, that has set-up a camp in the area to ensure security,” he said. 


Speaking on the impact on the industry, Joshua opined that the short term impact could be absorbed by the industry. 


“However, it takes a longer period for the country to return back to normalcy.” He cautioned that there might be cancellation of contracts by the private sector and significant loss of productivity in the industry. 

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