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Construction sector reels under heavy coronavirus weight

A construction project
A construction project. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Almost nine in every 10 construction professionals have reported a drop in new project enquiries, an industry survey shows, highlighting the heavy toll of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Another seven in every 10 have reported drop in communications or follow-ups on some of the ongoing projects.

“Only 4.6 percent and 3.5 percent of respondents reported an increase in the number of prospective client enquiries for new projects as well as on ongoing projects respectively,” Latest Architectural Association of Kenya (AAK) Impact of Covid-19 on the Built Environment Industry report shows.

A mere eight percent said they had seen flat growth on new projects at 22 percent on ongoing projects.

This is as more than a half of the respondents (63 percent) witnessed slowdowns on ongoing projects.

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“Only 7.2 percent said ongoing projects remained unaffected as 30 percent reported stalls,” the report adds.

The survey, which was conducted in April, involved 181 professionals in architecture, quantity surveying, engineering, urban planning, landscape architecture, construction project management and environmental design consulting.

“Up to 31.3 percent of consultants were also increasingly finding it difficult to obtain construction supplies with another 54.8 percent experiencing difficulties while obtaining development approvals,” the report shows.

Other challenges include delays in projects progress (74.9 percent), suspension of ongoing works (60.9 percent), and abnormal fluctuation in prices (20.1 percent).

While firms had taken various initiatives to boost employees’ health and welfare in the wake of the virus, 70 percent reported difficulties in conducting site meetings.

“About 60 percent of them asserted that the adoption of remote working practices had negatively impacted productivity of their firms,” the report adds.

Several firms had re-designed their office spaces as per social distancing guideline (6.7 percent), strict no-travel policies (33.9 percent) with those remaining unchanged (1.7 percent).

Challenges cited while working from homes include distractions as well as ineffectiveness due to inability to access construction sites.

“Some 42.3 percent reported ineffectiveness while working at homes with 26.8 percent saying it was ineffective as they needed to work from sites with 9.9 percent saying virtual meeting were not effective as real meeting,” the report shows.

“Only 17.4 percent of the members indicated that a number of their staff were unable to work remotely due to personal reasons such as lack of electricity and internet among others,” it adds.

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