Construction on hold and more mamak shops may fold

JOHOR BARU: Infrastructure and housing projects are going to be delayed and many mamak shops may have to bring down the shutters if the shortage of foreign workers continues.

Malaysia is no longer attractive to Indonesian workers due to the weak ringgit as they would rather work in their home country or go to Singapore instead.

Indonesian construction workers who previously worked in Malaysia are now in demand back home due to their skills gained here.

Johor Master Builders Association immediate past president Tee See Kim said the decision by Indonesia to stop sending Indonesian workers would have a negative impact on the construction industry.

“Indonesians are the best workers for construction-related activities compared with other foreigners,’’ he said, adding that there could be an increase in prices of houses soon.

“Skilled Indonesian workers are only willing to work for us if we pay them between RM150 and RM200 daily. The non-skilled rate is about RM100,’’ said Tee.

He said contractors are now forced to go around looking for workers at construction sites as they have deadlines to meet.

Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association (Perusim) secretary Hussein Ibrahim lamented that more Indian Muslim restaurants would be closed due to the labour crunch.

“About 30 outlets in Johor Baru were closed during the first movement control order implemented on March 18, 2020,’’ he said.

Hussein expected the number to double by the end of the year if foreign workers continue to stay away.

“We now operate between 12 and 15 hours instead of round-the-clock and open only for lunch, dinner and supper and not breakfast,’’ he said.

Hussein said the state’s restaurants needed between 3,000 and 5,000 workers but getting locals to work for them was not easy.

“They prefer to work at Indian Muslim restaurants in Singapore as they can earn about S$1,500 (RM4,800) a month there,” he said.

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