Construction - why is it not an essential service?
Construction industry suppliers are calling for government leaders to add construction to the list of essential businesses. According to a joint statement from the Clay Brick Association of Southern Africa (CBASA) and ASPASA, Government at all levels should treat the construction industry and the work it performs as vital and essential to the critical industries that must remain in operation.
"South Africa continues to confront the ongoing and evolving challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," says Mariana Lamont of the CBASA.
"We urge Government to consider the essential role that architects, construction contractors and materials suppliers play in maintaining our nation’s roads and critical infrastructure assets including safe homes and hospitals as well as keeping the nation’s energy infrastructure secure and resilient."
"Physical distancing is not difficult to achieve on site, and South Africa already has legislation in place to deal with health and safety. Construction workers would be better able to protective themselves against Covid-19 than they are at home in crowded conditions. Sites are able to provide superior washrooms and cleaning materials, and protect workers with masks, gloves and other protective gear.
In many countries including Canada and most US States, construction has been designated an essential service.
The clay brick manufacturing industry and ASPASA ( Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of Southern Africa) together provide key component for the construction industry. They are significant employers and contributors to the South African economy.
These production operations are outside urban areas, and are usually on large tracts of open land incorporating quarries. Workers are rarely team-based, and many carry out tasks outdoors or driving heavy equipment. Bricks are delivered to site in custom-designed trucks with specialised loading equipment, and there is no reason for drivers to interact. Together with farming, they are one of the key employers of unskilled workers in rural areas.
"The Construction Industry and the supply chain plays an important role in the effort by all to reignite the South African economy," advises Nico Pienaar of ASPASA. "We are keen to work towards see infrastructure investment contributing 30% of the Gross Domestic Product by 2030. Hence, we support the call to return to make this sector stronger and time to recover from the impact of Covid-19."
"We have great appreciation for the sterling leadership demonstrated by our government under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, and for his deep understanding of the construction sector’s contribution to and role in the South African economy.
"Mining is an industry that has had some success in being reopened due the efforts of the Minerals Council. We request that the bodies who are involved in the construction industry work hard on getting the industry open a least level 4. If construction players are preparing proposals for government consideration, we ask that we be included in any discussions," Nico concludes.