Construction boom, but challenges loom

Construction boom, but challenges loom
The construction boom shows no signs of ending any time soon, but a shortage of workers means projects may cost more and take longer to complete.

SINGAPORE - The construction boom shows no signs of ending any time soon, but a shortage of workers means projects may cost more and take longer to complete.

Experts say the strong construction demand is expected to continue with many big projects in the pipeline, including public housing and infrastructure works such as the MRT's Thomson Line.

While this is good news for the industry, contractors say they are struggling to cope with the manpower shortage.

This year's total construction demand is a projected $28 billion to $34 billion, compared with last year's $30.7 billion.

Work permits in the construction industry have risen to 306,500 this June, from 180,000 at end-2007. But labour quotas for each project have been nearly halved since 2010.

"For every 10 workers you could have engaged then, you can get only 5.5 workers now," said Singapore Contractors Association president Ho Nyok Yong.

With fewer workers to do more work, completion of some projects is being delayed by "several months", he said.

Straits Construction executive director Kenneth Loo said: "Some projects will be prolonged, some will not. It depends on how they're managed."

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