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Construction will be one of the last to be unlocked.

Lifestyle Solutions - One Stop Property Solutions
Published by Francois in Construction · 26 April 2020
Tags: convirusopenduringlockdownessentialserviceconstructionservices
On Thursday night President Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would move to Level 4 of a five-level system of restrictions on 1 May, bringing some parts of the economy back online. Currently the thinking is that under level 4 the following construction activities will be allowed (1.) Civil engineering for public works projects (including water, energy, sanitation) (2.) Critical public works construction; (3.) Road and bridge projects; (4.) Other public works civil engineering projects; and (5.) Critical maintenance and repairs.

The construction industry has told government that construction should be declared an essential service, alongside the likes of food manufacturing and water provision. Currently the government thinking is that construction is classed as less essential than takeaways and clothing stores. On the other hand the construction sector is lobbying to be classified as an essential-service status, and wants as a minimum that they be given the go-ahead to continue with some of the work in progress building before 1 May.  There are two main arguments (1) that before the virus many construction companies were already in a perilous financial state with significant job losses looming and (2) they claim that the half-built roads and buildings create a public hazard when just left to rot.

In an ideal world, from 1 May, the building industry would like to return to normal operation, complete with the commissioning of new buildings. The industry said in a presentation central to its lobbying efforts that "It is important to mitigate the public safety risks associated with unattended construction sites, including damage from weather related incidents, security costs, break-in damage, plant maintenance and stock loss. Furthermore the issue of single lane unfinished roads which had been halted due to the lockdown without road safety management, continue to be a safety hazard to road users, especially other essential healthcare workers who may need to use such roads to travel between home and work."

The construction companies have argued that building sites are closed to the public, and construction workers are used to following safety procedures, so adding anti-viral measures such as hand cleaning will present fewer problems than for other industries. The construction industry has also alluded to its already perilous state in South Africa, and the very real potential litigation issues that come with Covid-19, such as when major projects are not completed on time due to lockdown.

Under the draft plan construction and maintenance for the SA National Roads Agency will resume at Level 3 but the rest of the construction industry would follow only at Level 2, when all industries and retailers are allowed to operate. President Ramaphosa has said that industry bodies will have the opportunity to make submissions after various ministers spell out what the five level approach would mean for different industries, before new regulations are gazetted.

We will keep you posted and in the meanwhile please note that we are open for critical and emergency maintenance and repairs works on a countrywide basis.

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