Contractors worry with ban on laborers post COVID-19

Contractors across the country are left worried with the ban of laborers though it is just a two- week ban. The worry is that the ban could possibly be extended for months and months if the COVID-19 situation gets worse. However, a small hope remains in them where the government would take a time to consider their situation soon.

The contractors for now worry about delay in completion of work whereby they have to pay penalty, loss of raw materials, paying loans, and so forth. The ban of laborers for longer period of time would have negative impact on them.

Managing Director of Lamneykha Construction Pvt. Ltd., Passang, said that no labor at site means less work or no work at all and that alternately increase the overhead cost, which means the assets become their liability.

He said, “The works assigned by government/department has to be completed on time and failing to do so would lead in paying penalty and asking for time extension would be challenging. We worry if the government would consider this at later stage.”

He also said that once their work is put on halt due to no laborers at site, they may fail to pay their loans on time, and this ultimately leads to increase in interest rate. “When we do not get Indian laborers, we may have to hire Bhutanese laborers where the rate is much higher,” he added.

Kado Dukpa, proprietor of KD Construction said that if ban goes on for longer duration it would mean a great loss to company. He said, “Not using raw materials like sand, cement, rods, planks, etc., for longer period would mean they would go to waste. We have to dispose all the waste and have to again procure new materials which cost us double.”

Due to massive competition, the contractors will quote low to get work and if they have to take up loses in every ways then it would be a nightmare, he added.

Pema Gyeltshen of Akatsuki Construction said that there would be delay in work completion, however, there might be some consideration for the minor delay. He said, “Banning is not only the solution, I feel. A proper legitimate medical report stating negative for COVID-19 must be demanded.”

He also said that the chances of COVID-19 being spread by laborers are far less than tourists since they mostly stay at their work place and can be considered semi-quarantined.

“Time delay can be made up with consideration from the employer, but damage to bad loss of materials and equipment would be the major concern of loss. There will be consequences of ban and it will depend on how long the ban stands,” he added.

Namgay of Passang Construction said that the temporary wouldn’t have much impact, however, if the ban goes on for longer period of time, then it would have greater loss to the company. This is a peak season to bring in laborers but with the ban they can’t procure the number of laborers needed.

He said, “Work delay would be the main issue. Nevertheless, I believe that since this is the measure adopted by the government, they would consider our delay and stand at the end.”

When it comes to loan repayment, a short time ban wouldn’t have negative impact but if it goes on for longer time, they would request government to freeze the loan interest, he added.

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