The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) held a workshop focussing on the challenges faced by Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) contractors in the construction sector.

The Minister of National Infrastructure and Community Development, Mr Mahendranuth Sharma Hurreeram; the Chairperson of the CIDB, Mr Tarkaswar Cowaloosur; the Executive Director of the CIDB, Mr Ram Bahadoor; and other personalities were present at the opening ceremony.

In his address, Minister Hurreeram highlighted that Government was investing massively in the construction sector, despite the increase in the price of construction materials due to, among others, the COVID-19 pandemic. “The workshop,” he observed, “provides an opportunity for authorities and relevant stakeholders to explore the possible remedies to help define a strategy to support the SME contractors in the present economic context.”

The Minister further remarked that the CIDB intended to take the construction sector to the next level and to provide the necessary support to SME contractors to build the Mauritius of tomorrow.

It is recalled that the construction industry has shown its resilience against both the COVID-19 pandemic and the fast-changing global economic situations. However, despite the positive outlook for the year ahead, the industry is struggling hard for a regular supply of materials and labour, and contractors are facing an acute shortage of both skilled and unskilled labour. This has led to an over-reliance on the importation of labour in the construction sector.

On the other hand, the high volatility of the costs of construction materials is disrupting the supply chain. This situation is being further exacerbated by the present global economic conditions, thus bringing more uncertainties in the delivery process of the construction sector. All these challenges are making it more difficult for SME contractors to strive and sustain their business in the prevailing economic climate.

As such, participants were invited to brainstorm on the following themes from the perspective of SME contractors: Availability of labour and its constraints; Foreign labour in the construction sector; Procurement of construction materials; and; Contractual and payment issues.

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