Construction sector badly hit by ‘COVID’; Manpower shortage

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KUWAIT CITY, Feb 20: The global coronavirus pandemic proved to be a detriment to not only the health sector but also impacted other sectors as countries scrambled to curb spread and communities altered ways of life to limit ramifications. The construction sector in Kuwait is one that did not escape such impacts. Speaking to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), experts commented on the surge in construction material prices, citing shortage of manpower, transportation expenses and decrease in production as factories lowered operational capacity. Sales and marketing manager of National Industries Company, Basel Al- Turkait, stated that locally, price rise could be attributed to the increase in disbursing residential lands, adding that construction materials price rise is estimated at 30 percent. He commented that the company has a limited role in instating material prices, saying that plastic witnessed a 50 percent rise because of increasing demand and lack of products in the market, as some sourcing factories were shut down. On his part, General Manager of Al- Buraq contractions company, Talal Al- Shaibani stated that expenses hiked as a result of skilled workers’ inability to travel during the pandemic, due to travel restrictions imposed at the time.

Al-Shaibani commented that such rise could negatively affect citizens and the constructions sector alike, indicating necessity of putting in place a mechanism regulating the distribution of lands so that high demand would not cause an upsurge in prices. He also added that primary materials price rise could be due to international producers increasing exporting prices with the importing crisis during pandemic. He explained that cost of building one square meter prior to the pandemic was estimated at KD 150 (USD 495) whereas currently it is estimated at KD 250 (USD 825), marking a 70 percent increase. He also mentioned that a cement bag cost did not rise much, as it was worth KD 1.1 and now it is valued at KD 1.25 because of the state subsidizing cement corporations. Al-Shaibani predicted further increase in prices following new legislations concerning the increase of Kuwait Credit Bank capital and disbursing around 12,000 residential units for the year (2020/2021).

Rami Al-Ahmadiya, a marble company manager, remarked that raw marble price witnessed a great rise because of decrease in global production and 30 increase in transport expenses as of last November. Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, an Arab equine center on Saturday said that a pair of concurrent beauty pageants involving hundreds of pure-bred Arabian horses generated a large turnout among breeders in Kuwait and abroad, highlighting the equine glamor the region is famed for.

The two events are a testament to how far the science of horse breeding has come in the wider Arab region, Arabian Horse Center chief Sheikha Sara Al-Sabah told KUNA, saying she was impressed by the broad participation of Kuwaiti breeders at these events, one of which was solely dedicated to stallions native to Egypt. The Kuwaiti official went on to applaud spectators in attendance for their compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols amid the proceedings, giving equal credit to the events’ organizers for their meticulous preparations. Breeders Allam Al-Kanderi, Barak Al-Hajeri and Fawaz Al-Mutairi, besides others, were among those to have taken top honors at the events. Report by Abdullah Al-Khateeb, (KUNA)

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