Kathmandu, Apr. 5: Contractors say that about 75 per cent of ongoing construction projects are likely to close down for the rest of the current fiscal year due to the nationwide lockdown.
“The works of a large number of the projects under construction are likely to resume within this fiscal year as many workers went home due to the fear of COVID-19,” said Rabi Singh, president of the Federation of Contractors Association Nepal (FCAN).
He said that works of projects related to bridges had been badly affected by the lockdown that came into effect from March 24 to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Most bridge construction work has stopped at a peak time as this is the main season for the construction of bridges by diverting the rivers, he said.
The water level of rivers is low in this season, so it is the favourable time for constructing bridges.
There would be no time for resuming the work of bridge construction even after removal of the lockdown as it is not possible to conduct work during the rainy season, he told The Rising Nepal.
However, there is no certainty when this lockdown will come to an end, he said.
Following the enforcement of lockdown for the last 10 days, all construction works have stopped as people are not allowed to gather in groups to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“I think that people will not be ready to return to workplace immediately after the removal of the lockdown due to the fear of virus transmission,” he said.
Stating that construction work has almost stopped in all projects after the extension of nationwide lockdown, he said that now around 3 million people working in the construction sector have become jobless.
Singh said that the construction works of some projects which are being carried out by local contractors with local manpower would start immediately after the situation comes back to normal.
He said that completion period of some projects would be pushed by a year due to the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown.
Halt in construction works in this season will not only hamper the projects but also increase overhead cost of the project, he said.
When the construction works are halted, the entire economy will be affected as the construction sector’s contribution to GDP stands 8 per cent, he said.
Welcoming the decision of the government to run the construction works of the national pride projects, he asked the government to allow the contractors to resume works of bridges and other emergency projects during the period of lockdown.
Member of National Planning Commission Sushil Bhatta said that the construction works had stopped following the implementation of lockdown which would upset the deadline of the projects.
Considering the necessity, the government has decided to run the works of national pride projects including Melamchi and Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project for their timely completion.
He said that the government would adopt the policies based on the scenario of the COVID-19 to run other projects.
“Present need of the state and the people is to prevent the spread of coronavirus. So, the government announced the lockdown to control the mass movement of people,” he said.
He said that the project run by the international contractors and foreign workers would be badly affected as it was not possible to resume work by calling foreign workers until and unless the fear of COVID-19 subsided.