The Impact Of Covid -19 And Proposed Solutions For The Built And Construction Industry
-By Lone Mojalemotho
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus (World Health Organisation, 2020). This disease has spread out through the world and was eventually declared a pandemic. Thanks to this pandemic, many of the local industries were negatively affected. This article aims to bring to light, these negative impacts on the construction industry and bring forth relevant solutions.
In order to show the full extent of the impacts of covid-19 a top to bottom approach will be used. This means the impacts will be analysed on a global scale and then all the way down to individuals while still focusing on the construction industry. According to The World Bank (2020), the economy is expected to contract by at least 9.1% in 2020 as COVID-19’s impact on global demand, travel restrictions and social distancing measures constrain output in key production and export sectors, including the diamond industry and tourism in Botswana. However, though the income of the country reduced, the expenditure during the pandemic increased. A Relief Fund that will assist to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 or Coronavirus as it is commonly known, has been set up (Embassy Of The Republic Of Botswana In Sweden, 2020). This fund had over BWP 2 000 000 000 000, which was used in the health care sector as well as food hampers to the nation during the pandemic. The above events set the stage for the first major impact on the construction industry, which is the fact that there is a very small number of major construction tenders (projects) being issued. This is because the main financer in the construction industry is the government, and the economic contraction coupled with the massive expenditure translates to very little money to start construction projects.
Looking at companies in the construction industry, who had already been engaged on certain projects, the pandemic has severely delayed project completion times. The overall cost of the projects has also increased since some of the work now has to be re-done and materials supplied again and the major question being who will have to pay for those extra charges. Companies have been forced to retrench some workers in order to survive. The social distancing requirements have also slowed down productivity as a less number of people are now present on site.
Perhaps the most detrimental yet subtle covid19 impact on the construction industry can be seen when considering fresh graduate and students. During 2020 many employers have taken the decision to delay or reduce the number of graduates that they are recruiting (Hooley, 2020). The future of the construction industry, depends on new graduates and fresh minds to carry on the work when the current generation eventually retires, but because there are less of them this create a potential for a knowledge gap in the future.
In terms of solutions to the above mentioned problems, technology can be leveraged. Virtual meetings can be held online to ensure that workers do not crowd but at the same time they are able to coordinate their efforts effectively. Companies in the industry can also consider making strategic alliances to ensure they protect the supply chain and are able to complete projects in a timely manner. Lastly as mentioned before, graduates and students in the industry are the future therefore it is crucial for companies to prioritise internships, and apprenticeships to ensure they retain fresh minds within the industry to aid them in navigating a way out of the consequences of the pandemic.
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The World Bank, 2020. The World Bank in Botswana. [Online]
Available at: https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/botswana/overview
[Accessed 20 October 2020].
World Health Organisation, 2020. Coronavirus. [Online]
Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1