Call for commercial construction industry to open in level 4 lockdown

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The local commercial construction industry employs mostly people from the informal settlements and small business. These developments also provide employment indirectly to our local manufacturers and producers that provide materials to the sites.

We are requesting the commercial construction industry to open in level 4 for the following reasons.

1. High value/low risk 

The construction industry is by nature a very high value industry where it is easy to mitigate risk specifically as there is not interaction with the public and there are strict on-site health and safety protocols as noted further in this petition. It is also important to point out that in countries like in Spain and England, construction was one the first industries to return to work.

2. Sustainability of production and manufacturing:

In level 4, manufacturing of construction goods and steel, as well as professional services including necessary municipal services will open. These trades service the construction industry. It is important to understand that the majority of the manufacturing of construction goods cannot viably operate if the commercial construction sites are closed.

3. Risk of infection can be managed:

On-site workers work independently and mostly out in the open. They also wear safety equipment and many already wear dust protectors so to extend this to the compulsory wearing of masks is easily implemented. There is already safety protocol in place on the commercial sites as we are required to comply with safety and health regulations. The Department of Labour already have a comprehensive infrastructure of inspectors ensuring comprehensive compliance with Health and Safety regulations as per the requirements of the act.

It should be very easy to include COV-19 guidelines in the inspection regime. Implementing regular sanitisation and temperature checking can be easily monitored by the site foreman’s as an extension of these regulations and reporting requirements. In addition, it is also possible to manage the number of workers on a site. This means that the risk of infection can be managed and checked. 

4. It alleviates hunger in the townships:

The biggest impact of this lockdown has been to the poorest in our communities. Opening commercial construction as soon as possible alleviates pressure in the townships and feeds those most in need. Transport facilities are already in place so accessibility is not an issue. 

5. It reduces risk of riots and uprising in local communities:

The longer that the majority of our poorest cannot work it puts everyone at risk to such an extent that people will no longer care if they get infected or not, their focus will be on their basic survival at whatever price to themselves and to others. Providing these people with the means to take care of themselves minimises risk to all of us.

6. We get our local economies moving:

The longer we are not able to produce, the longer money is not flowing in our system, the harder it will be to get it going again. It is imperative that we begin to start to give our people access to money and our economic system if we are to survive the impact of this lockdown.

7. Time is running out:

At the moment, we as local developers are supporting our wage earners with a weekly stipend but this is not sustainable if we cannot earn a living because we cannot complete our developments. This means that even when are able to start working again we will not have the reserves to complete the developments and the workers will not be able to return to work. It will be too late.

We truly understand the importance of managing health and safety in this crisis, and we are committed to making sure our workers are safe. We see this as an imperative so that we are able to provide for our families and keep South Africa fed. Please let us open commercial construction as soon as possible. 

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