Gandaki Province eases restrictions for construction projects but lacks workers and resources24 construction projects have resumed operations in the city, according to the Pokhara Metropolitan Office.
When Gandaki Province relaxed restrictions for construction projects after 40 days of lockdown, Kaushala Kumari Chaudhary and her husband Madan Chaudhary were relieved. On Friday, the contractors called them for work.
“If the lockdown had extended further, we would have had trouble making ends meet,” Madan said. “Since our work has resumed, we will get to send some money to our children in Dang.”
Kaushala and Madan live in Pokhara for work and were making do with relief handed out by the government since the start of the nationwide lockdown to prevent the outbreak of coronavirus.
Gandaki Province on Friday decided to ease restrictions for industries, construction projects and agro farms. It has formulated a set of guidelines which need to be followed by the projects to resume operation.
According to the Pokhara Metropolitan Office, 24 construction projects have resumed operations in the city.
“About 85 percent of work in the Phewa Preservation project was complete before the lockdown,” Prashant Baral, an engineer at the Metropolitan Office, said. “Now, projects like these will be able to continue work and near completion.”
According to Baral, nearly 400 workers will be employed at various construction sites in the metropolitan area. But a shortage of labour might hamper the smooth running of the projects, Baral said.
“Hundreds of workers have returned to their homes since the Covid-19 crisis,” he said. “And the situation is not favourable for them to return. The projects will run but not as effectively as before the crisis.”
Besides the lack of manpower, project officials are also grappling with a shortage of construction materials in the market.
“The projects are running with whatever resources they had already bought, but soon, there will be a shortage of construction material,” Baral said.
One of the major construction projects benefitted from the province’s decision is the ‘National Pride Project’ of Pokhara International Airport, where a total of 370 workers have resumed work.
Project chief Binesh Munkarmi said that the Rs 21 billion project, aimed to be completed by July 2021, has only about 60 percent of work complete thus far.
“The deadline will likely be pushed,” Munkarmi said. “The resources that are available in Pokhara are exhausted, and there is also a shortage of labour resources. So the project’s completion will likely be delayed.”
The district administration has said it would make arrangements for hardware stores to operate so the construction projects would not have to deal with a shortage of raw materials, according to the guidelines issued by the provincial government.
But Bhim Nepali, deputy chair of the Construction Entrepreneurs’ Association, Kaski, said things haven’t gone as planned. Even though the stores remain open, they do not have sufficient materials, and it’s unlikely they can have them delivered amidst the lockdown, Nepali said.
“Most of the construction materials come from the Tarai districts that are under total lockdown,” Nepali said. “And the stores in Pokhara are running out of materials. It’s only a matter of time until the projects have to close again.”