Speedy vaccination to revive construction sector

A viable option for speedy vaccination is by setting up a mobile centre to vaccinate workers on-site


MALAYSIA’S accelerated Covid-19 vaccines rollout may promise a return to normalcy for the construction industry.

Since the indefinite extension of Full Movement Control Order (FMCO), construction companies have faced disruption in their supply chains and restrictions in their operational sites.

Gagasan Nadi Cergas Bhd said the Enhanced MCO (EMCO) announced by the government on July 3 has affected its construction sites in the Klang Valley.

“Our ongoing construction sites in the Klang Valley, namely Bukit Raja, Putra Heights, Serdang, Shah Alam, Serendah, Cyberjaya and Ulu Yam have come to a near-standstill,” Gagasan Nadi group MD Wan Azman Wan Kamal told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

According to Wan, under FMCO, only critical works are allowed to commence while suppliers of supporting services (such as steel, concrete and other raw materials) faced difficulties in keeping a smooth supply chain under the more-stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“We opine that halting construction activities is not the solution because workers in the construction site face the same risk of Covid19 spread as when they stay in their hostels and dormitories,” Wan said.

Last week, Master Builders Association Malaysia sent a joint memorandum to the government to reopen the construction industry in stages and order of priority, as was reported by TMR.

Supporting the call, Wan suggested that a viable option to undertake speedy vaccination for the construction sector is by setting up a mobile centre to vaccinate workers on-site.

“Contractors would be able to gather all the workers to undertake the process, keep track and monitor them, as well as minimise movement compared to transporting them to a centre in another location,” he told TMR in an email reply.

Wan added that the outlook for the construction sector is very much dependent on the speed and scope of vaccination for all parties.

“Hitting a high vaccination rate has to be the country’s foremost priority in order to regain economic and social normalcy,” Wan added.

Wan urges the government to allocate more development funds for public infrastructures, such as higher learning institutions, army and police camps, student hostels, affordable homes and hospitals and other healthcare-related projects.

These would form building blocks for the nation’s progress in the post-Covid era, he said.

TRC Synergy Bhd has also faced the same problem under the EMCO with most of its projects in the Klang Valley halted.

“Even with the permit to operate for certain sites, we have faced some delays from subcontractors and suppliers due to compliance to the EMCO,” TRC Synergy group MD Tan Sri Sufri Mohd Zin noted in an email.

He added that the construction sector has a huge multiplier effect on the economy, thus getting it up and running again is paramount to the country’s economic turnaround.

“Once the majority of the construction sector’s workers receive their vaccination, the continued use of masks and adherence to social distancing measures will reduce any health risks even more tremendously,” Sufri said.

Despite the prolonged lockdown, he expects TRC Synergy’s strong balance sheet will help buffer potential headwinds.

“However, it is an increasingly urgent situation for the industry and the clock is ticking for us to resolve this health and safety emergency,” he stated.

TRC Synergy outlook remains positive for 2021 due to its significant construction orderbook of about RM1.3 billion, consisting of projects with the private and public sectors, as well as property developments comprising affordable homes that are in high demand.

Kerjaya Prospek Group Bhd, however, is expected to see a drop in its second-quarter (ended June 30, 2021) (2Q21) financial fortunes compared to 1Q21 due to the FMCO implementation.

Its executive chairman Datuk Tee Eng Ho has his eyes on the government plan to lift the EMCO as well as the country’s ability to reach herd immunity by October.

“Even though our construction sites are outside the EMCO area and are allowed to operate, however, the supplies factories such as quarry factory and brick factory were closed, which affects the construction projects to operate,” Tee said in a virtual interview with TMR.

Noting the Damanlela site cluster, Tee said the company has taken strong measures to curb Covid-19 among its construction workers and ensure such an incident will not occur again.

“We make sure the construction sites follow the SOPs and comply with any rules and instructions set by the government. Our workers have also undergone RT-PCR swab tests frequently even if they don’t show any symptoms or have close contact with Covid-19 patients,” he said.

As of July 6, the Damanlela site cluster has detected 630 new Covid19 cases reported by TMR.

Kerjaya Prospek, he said, has spent about RM3 million to curb the Covid-19 virus among its workers.

Tee is confident the group will see a better performance in September, given the pick-up in the vaccination programme.

Tee said the group will ink a contract with Virent Capital Sdn Bhd in a couple of months for its renewable energy segments, which will give the group a better performance to its financial year ending Dec 31, 2021.