ALL construction work in the country ground to a halt when the movement control order (MCO) was first implemented in March last year.
As a result, in the following months, the construction sector recorded estimated losses of RM11bil per month from unpaid wages, unused materials, idling plants and equipment, head office overhead and profit loss due to the suspension of 7,500 ongoing projects.
It was a setback throughout the different phases of the MCO right up to MCO3.0 – affecting the progress of non-essential works including at project and construction sites as most construction jobs are not permitted during this period.
Public Works Department projects are also affected and further aggravated by the shortage of materials and limited number of workers allowed on site. However, the projects that are stopped will be considered for an extension of time (EOT).
Operating under strict SOP
Under new SOPs released on May 31, the construction sector is allowed to operate for critical works under strict compliance with SOP.
“With 60% worker capacity allowed, the projects allowed to operate are under strict supervision and monitoring through the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), ensuring these critical works are not affected during this period,” said Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.
“These include controlling the movement in and out of construction sites and workers’ quarters, and controlling the transportation of workers between their quarters and the construction site.
“Contractors are also required to ensure the workers’ daily needs such as food and personal hygiene products are fully provided for in order to reduce the need for workers to move around the community,” he said.
Through CIDB, the Works Ministry strives to provide full support to the Health Department to ensure that contractors comply with instructions given by the department, he emphasised.
One of the requirements of construction site SOPs is that all workers undergo screening and be tested negative before they are allowed to return to work. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure all workers are screened and tested.
Any foreign or local worker with Covid-19 symptoms must be immediately isolated and undergo testing. Both the worker and employer are required to keep a record of the swab test results for the authorities’ reference.
There have also been cases where the workers with symptoms were found to be Covid-19 positive when receiving treatment. In such cases, the local health department will be alerted and contact tracing will be conducted and the necessary measures will be taken to curb the spread.
CIDB also conducts regular spot checks on construction sites to ensure compliance with all SOP and guidelines.
Vaccination for personnel
While developing the country physically, the Works Minister pointed out that the ministry also makes sure the well-being of the industry players and workers is not neglected as they are an important component in the economy of the nation.
Aside from formulating and monitoring the Construction Sector Standard of Procedure during MCO3.0 to ensure workers are protected and the continuity of industry works, the ministry – together with CIDB – is offering vaccination to 40,000 construction workers whereby the supply and distribution of vaccines are subsidised by the government.
This voluntary basis programme aims to increase the vaccination rate among construction workers.
“CIDB has been tasked with coordinating the Construction Industry Vaccination Programme (CIVac) and is working closely with the Covid-19 Immunisation Special Task Force (CITF) to implement the vaccination programme throughout Malaysia in two phases,” said Fadillah.
“The first phase targets Kuala Lumpur and Selangor while the second phase targets Seberang Prai, Kuantan and Johor Baru.
“The first phase of CIVac targets to vaccinate 40,000 workers at the CIDB Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur and Kompleks Sukan Negara in Shah Alam,” he added.
The vaccination programme is available for general workers, skilled workers, trainees, project managers, site supervisors and administrative personnel within the construction sector.
To ensure more construction workers are vaccinated, both CIDB Green Card holders and non-holders are eligible for vaccination under this programme.
The response from the industry to CIVac has been overwhelming. All vaccination slots for Kuala Lumpur and Selangor were snapped up in less than 24 hours after registration opened on June 21. Vaccination for construction workers in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor started on June 30 and July 14 respectively.
Restoring the economy
The government has set aside RM35bil under the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) and stimulus packages such as Prihatin and Prihatin SMEs Additional Package amounting to RM260bil to restore the country’s economy,
The Finance Ministry recently announced a total of RM12.12bil of small and medium enterprise (SME) soft loan funds approved by local banks and accepted by SMEs. The amount includes Special Relief Facility (SRF), Automation and Digitisation Facility (ADF) and All-Economic Sector Facility (AES).
The Budget 2021 outlined numerous allocations and tax deduction under the Pemerkasa Plus economic stimulus package especially in digitalisation initiatives implemented by businesses.
Riding on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) megatrend, the Works Ministry will be launching the National Construction Policy 2030 this year, with “Digitalising the Construction Sector” as the theme.
This is set to support the adoption and adaptation of technology in work processes, standardisations, and mechanisms including business culture.
“This will recalibrate the construction process from the planning stage within the development phase until the maintenance and demolition phase.
“The initiative covers the vital elements of providing quality infrastructure including quality and safety, environmental sustainability, productivity of human capital, internationalisation and competitiveness as well as infrastructure maintenance.
“It is an effort to provide a more conducive and holistic environment setup to boost the economy and serve as a catalyst in the construction sector,” concluded Fadillah.