S'pore must be prepared to pay higher construction costs due to new Covid-19 regulations: Wong

Wong said that in principle, the company must bear the cost of increased regulatory measures.

Sulaiman Daud | May 15, 2020, 07:21 PM

Everyone in Singapore must be prepared to pay higher costs for construction work in Singapore due to Covid-19 safety measures, says Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.

Wong, who jointly heads the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Covid-19 with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, said this in a press conference on Friday, May 15, referring to anticipated rises in cost associated with new measures that are being imposed on the construction industry as its workers return to work on critical projects.

Testing scaled up, construction costs higher

Wong said that the government intends to test all construction workers who are working every two weeks:

"(It) will scale up and we want to test all the workers who are working, who will be resuming work, and it will be done on a regular basis. This will be a new regulatory requirement on top of all the other safe distancing measures that we have put in place that we are talking about, that contractors will now have to uphold, so I have no doubt, as with all regulatory requirements, the principle must be that the company must bear the cost."

He added:

"So I have no doubt that it will mean construction costs in Singapore will be higher because of these regulatory requirements. And all of us have to be prepared to pay this higher cost, because we want construction work to be done safely in Singapore from henceforth."

Workers heading back to construction sites

Also at the press conference, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) announced that an additional 20,000 construction workers, constituting about 5 per cent of the construction workforce in Singapore, will be returning to work from June 2 onwards.

To ensure that all these workers remain healthy and Covid-19-free as far as possible, both large-scale and individual measures will be implemented.

These include requiring each worker to download the TraceTogether app and wear a mask while working.

At the worksites, workers must be divided into different teams, minimise interaction with other workers as much as possible, and the sites must also be equipped with sufficient hand wash stations and hand sanitisers.

The workers must also have dedicated transport to and from their accommodations, if they are not able to live in quarters on-site, which will also be arranged to take into account safe distancing measures and to group workers involved in the same projects together.

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Top photos adapted via CNA live & Getty Images