The government has begun announcing projects like road and building works as part of infrastructure development in the country, but construction industry sources complain that work on these ventures has to wait to pick up pace due to the shortened summer timings for site workers being enforced from June 15.
The pace of work in the construction sector becomes quite slow during the two-and-a-half months (between June 15 and August 31) when shortened work timings are in force due to extreme heat
A worker operating a bulldozer at a construction site in the afternoon yesterday. ABDUL BASIT
The regulations require companies to stop work at sites and on open grounds between 11.30am and 3pm between June 15 and August 31. But industry sources say that since their sites are often far away from their labour camps, bringing the workers back to the site after 3pm is “extremely difficult”.
It normally takes 45 minutes to transport workers to their camps and bringing them back to the site takes another 45 minutes. “But since most workers take a siesta after lunch they are mostly reluctant to return,” a construction industry source said.
Most big and medium-size companies, therefore, make their field staff work only five hours a day, starting at 5am or 5.30am, except on Fridays, when the summer work timings are in force. As a result the work suffers.
The source said even before or after the summer work timings are in force, most big companies, taking a lenient view, ask the workers to take rest when day temperatures soar. “From experience we can say that this has a positive impact on the productivity of the workers.”
Construction and contracting companies earlier used to keep stocks of salt tablets for field workers during the sizzling summer months. But the practice has almost stopped as using these tablets can pose serious health risks, especially if a worker suffers from high blood pressure. A big site can on average engage no less than 2,000 workers at a time, said the source.
Asked if government inspectors check whether companies are conforming to the summer work timings or not, the source said they do visit work sites at random and take action.
“So, no one takes chances,” he said. The violators are mostly small contractors who are in a hurry to finish a project to avoid losses.
According to the source, a good sign now is that the government has begun announcing projects and most of them are in the tendering stage. Some water pipeline projects have already been awarded.
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