Senior minister: Most construction projects remain closed despite eased restrictions under CMCO

A general view of the Pavilion Embassy construction site on Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur May 3, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
A general view of the Pavilion Embassy construction site on Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur May 3, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Over 4,000 construction projects have remained shut despite being among the earliest sectors to reopen under the conditional movement control order (CMC), Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob revealed today.

The large number of developers opting to remain shut underscores the weak confidence among developers, as concern of mounting cost and supply disruptions render most to remain cautious and halt operations until the post-Covid-19 recovery begins.

Ismail said from up to 6,000 construction sites that were inspected by the Construction Industry Development Board, some 900 were found to comply with the Ministry of Health’s standard operating procedure while 224 were found to have not.

The rest remained closed nearly a month since the government partially lifted restrictions.

“The CIDB conducted inspections on 6,000 construction sites,” he said in the council’s daily media brief on Malaysia’s Covid-19 situation.

He said that 934 sites were found compliant while 224 were not. He added that the remaining 4,000-over sites were found to be “closed”.

The construction sector is one of the largest contributors to GDP growth and was among the industries exempted from the movement control order.

But the discovery of a new infection cluster among the sector’s predominantly migrant workforce just last week have caused concerns for developers.

At the time, many already held views that resuming constructions could expose its workers to the disease, possibly increasing healthcare costs when most developers were already scratching their heads over losses incurred by project delays.

Ismail said today the large number of builders remaining shut could suggest many were not able to comply or found the health SOPs set by public health authorities too strict.

“They can open and resume work, but the SOP is that strict, which is why developers have not resumed construction,” Ismail said.

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