Building contractors lose big business during lockdown

THE Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association (ZBCA) has said its members are losing big business due to Covid-19 induced lockdown and appealed to Government to grant essential service status to its sector to allow uniterrupted operations.

When the lockdown measures were first announced, ZBCA said a lot of its members had millions of dollars worth of contracted projects, which remain incomplete. The association said only companies working on big national projects like the Chirundu-Harare highway and the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden were allowed to continue working while the rest stayed at home.

Under this lockdown environment, ZBCA said several construction companies are being taken to court for failure to complete projects while others risk folding up leading to retrenchment of thousands of workers.

In an interview, ZBCA Midlands region chairperson, Dr Tinashe Manzungu, said there was uncertainty among most players in the construction industry because of Covid-19 induced lockdown.

“We have been affected by Covid-19 induced lockdown. More so, we have never been taken as essential service providers. The sustainability of the construction industry depends on its members delivering on projects and on time and a lot have or are failing to deliver because of the lockdown,” he said.

Dr Manzungu said industry was being upset by uncertainties arising from the Covid-19 induced lockdown, which has resulted in price distortions and unavailability of some equipment and other products needed in the construction of buildings.

“As ZBCA you can see, we are worried because nothing has been said about the construction sector, we were never mentioned as essential service providers. Those working on national projects like the Chirundu-Harare highway have been allowed to continue working.

“Construction is where we work and a country’s prosperity is measured through infrastructure development, which we feel should be allowed to continue,” he said.

Dr Manzungu said now was the time to complete projects so that when the Covid-19 war is won, the country will be at an advanced stage in terms of infrastructure development.

“Infrastructure is vital for any economy. As Zimbabwe we need to be leapfrogging other countries who are hard hit by Covid-19.

“This is an opportunity for us to be doing a lot of construction. Unfortunately in this Covid-19 era, we have lost a lot of business and there is need for us to be allowed to work on infrastructure projects,” he said.

Dr Manzungu said the Government should consider Covid- 19 relief for the construction industry.

“We also have machines that need to be constantly working and we thought when the mining industry was allowed to reopen, Government was going to extend this window to the construction industry,” said Dr Manzungu.–

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