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Lack of workers hounds construction industry, say

The lack of construction workers has been among the key challenges that the industry has faced in this part of the country, forcing it to slow down last year, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported.

Based on the report, last year, the construction posted a growth rate of 18.1%, a bit high but just about half of what it posted in 2017 at 37.9.

Since about two years ago, the regional office of the Department of Labor and Employment took notice of the growing demand for construction workers as both the private companies and the government have both embarked on labor-intensive projects. The agency, although it did not specify the number of the needed construction workers, said that this challenge is key to achieving the economic growth of the region.

Maria Lourdes D. Lim, regional director of the National Economic and Development Board, confirmed last week during a press conference that the lack of workers has been discussed in several conferences in the region as both government and private projects have suffered some delays due to lack of workers.

Although the problem “is not that big,” Lim said there is still a need to address it to ensure that key projects, among them government-initiatives through the “Build, Build, Build” program, start rolling.

Among the proposed interventions, said Lim, is for the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to conduct “more capacity building” activities in key areas of the region to increase the number of construction workers.”

On the fear that some workers from other areas may eventually find opportunities in the city to fill the demand, Lim said: “Priority should be given to local workers in the region.”

Another huge challenge, especially on the part of government projects, is the settlement of road-right of way issues particularly in road and other similar infrastructure projects.

One example is the implementation of the P130-billion four-city first phase of the Mindanao Railway System. Several homeowners in the city, among them those living in high-end subdivisions, have complained that they were not consulted when government started plotting the path of the system which would include their homes.

Of late, the Department of Transportation already sought the help of the local government units within the system – the cities of Tagum, Panabo, Davao, Digos and the town of Santa Cruz, to help in the acquisition of sites for the projects.

In the private sector, based on an earlier report, aside from subdivision, the City Engineer’s Office last year received about 40 applications for the setting up of condominiums in the city alone. This even did not include subdivisions and other infrastructure facilities, the report added.

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