Construction Response to Covid-19 and Remobilisation Post Covid-19
The Construction Industry Council (CIC) welcomes the swift and prudent action taken by the Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic to date. A concerted effort must be made to safeguard the construction and wider built environment sector, given its critical importance to the Irish economy.
Since the commencement of this unprecedented crisis, contractors, professional service providers and suppliers have committed to maintaining essential activity while adhering to Government guidelines.
Each member organisation of the CIC has been actively promoting and implementing best practice in compliance with HSE Guidelines to ensure the health and safety of construction workers, engineers, architects, surveyors, other professionals, suppliers and the general public.
Compliance with these measures, while undoubtedly essential, is leading to unavoidable cost increases, which will significantly impact on the sector as a result of the crisis. These cost increases, coupled with the likely curtailment of both public and private building and infrastructure projects, could be catastrophic for the industry and in turn, for inward investment and the Irish economy as a whole.
Urgent action is required to mitigate as much as possible the negative impact of Covid-19 on the built environment sector of the economy. Therefore, the CIC is calling on the Government to:
- Address and alleviate concerns over the current contractual and associated implications of the cessation and restrictions of works on sites (e.g. company failures, supply chain failures, the imposition of penalties, unavoidable additional costs, loss of key staff, contract determinations etc.). Every construction project in the country has been affected by the Covid-19 crisis, and as such, an agreed common approach as to how to deal with these issues is urgently required.
Addressing and resolving contractual matters, if not managed reasonably, will involve key people from all parties in unproductive activities that will add additional costs and further delay delivery times of projects that are badly needed to address key deficits in our national infrastructure.
The CIC’s view is that early intervention and guidance to all public sector contracting authorities is required, with an objective of preventing extensive, resource-consuming, and costly disputes across the industry at a time when the industry will be required to re-commence its trading activities.
- Where it is necessary in the national interest to maintain projects ready for immediate recommencement when the crisis allows, explore fair and transparent cost management solutions for the project teams (contractors, professional service consultants and supply chain) to maintain existing structures to enable the quick restart of activities.
After the last recession, the negative impact of the consequences of a slow ramping up of the industry was very evident. This impacted all sectors of the industry, and most visibly in the civil engineering and housing sectors. Therefore, it is critical for the national recovery that the industry is, this time, in a position to re-commence activity at a high level as possible.
- Address and expedite payment schedules, including relaxation of milestone payments where possible.
- Continue investment in progress for building and infrastructure projects, as well as prioritise and streamline procurement plans to minimise the time lost post-crisis. The Government should instruct public bodies to continue with the planning, designing and procurement stages of projects so that projects can be ‘shovel ready’ when the crisis ends.
- Accelerate the work on key infrastructural investment outlined in Project Ireland 2040 through innovative procurement and contracting strategies to ensure the future pipeline of work and build confidence in the continued viability of the industry as a key economic driver in Ireland.
The CIC is requesting urgent attention be given to these issues and remains available to engage with Government as required to ensure their efficient implementation.
The CIC continues to support the Government in this time of national emergency and is willing to collaborate to develop these proposals into actionable policies. CIC professionals, member practices and firms work across the construction industry with global learnings that can be brought to the conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to video conference with senior officials to discuss the details of the next steps, to ensure we exit this period of national emergency as strongly as