‘Shortage of workers and sand threatening construction industry growth’


By Steve A.Morrell

'Over the next two years the construction industry would exceed Rs. 6.5 billion. Colombo’s rapidly rising skyline was index to its growth. However, the construction industry was currently faced with a shortage of workers and material for construction, particularly sand, Secretary General, Ceylon Chamber of Industries Nissanka N. Wijeratne said.

He stated the above recently at a press conference on the occasion of the Ceylon Chamber of Industries ( CCI ) announcing the 4th 'Build Sri Lanka' exhibition, scheduled for May 18th to 20th 2018.

'The two problems highlighted what would cause the construction industry to be retarded. Progress, as indicated in recent statistics, was that given the rapid growth of the industry, the growth rate of 9 percent would perhaps double to 15 percent over the next two years, Wijeratne explained.

He added - 'Although such expansion was a realistic expectation, the need for sand and workers was causing stress factors for the industry, interrupting progress.

'Sand was an integral necessity for construction. However it was also of relevance that sand mining could be harmful to the ecology. The CCI was sensitive to maintaining the ecological balance in low lying areas. We being sensitive to natural concerns, new methods for construction would have to be found to tide over the shortage of sand. Building techniques adhered to in other countries were being considered to offset the looming crisis.

'Of concern was also the worker shortage affecting construction. Although wages were quite substantial, young people preferred not to enter construction. Their preference was for desk jobs; often at poor pay. What was suggested was that workers be brought from Nepal, Myanmar, India, to be employed in these building sites. Also school leavers should be trained to eventually join the construction industry.

President CCI, Major Ranjith Gunathilleke said the construction industry was booming. Over the past ten years progress was seen to be good.

'Additionally, the open economy and hub status of Sri Lanka, since it was in the Indian ocean, brought additional impacts that placed the construction industry at its current progress level.'

Deputy Minister of Power Ajith C. Perera, Chief Guest at the CCI press conference, said over the past ten years the per capita income increased from about 800 dollars to its current level of almost 4000 dollars. His clearly indicated the success features in the economy, reflected in the expansion of construction. He also said this sector was in rapid progress.

Picture shows Minister Perera presenting a recognition award to the president, CCI.

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