The construction industry plays an essential role in the socio economic development of a country. The activities of the industry have great significance to the achievement of national development goals of providing infrastructure, sanctuary and employment. It includes hospitals, schools, townships, offices, houses and other buildings; urban infrastructure (including water supply, sewerage, 280 drainage); highways, roads, ports, railways, airports; power systems; irrigation and agriculture systems; telecommunications etc. The construction industry generates substantial employment and provides a growth impetus to other sectors through backward and forward linkages.
These days there has been a revolutionary change taking place in the construction industry of Pakistan. There was a time when contractors used to break stones by hand into pieces to make roads. These roads however were not up to the mark. Nowadays, construction machineries are being imported from different countries. This has helped the construction industry to grow as work of weeks can be done in days, all thanks to the modern machinery. It is common to see machineries like bulldozers, excavators etc operating in construction sites. This used machinery is purchased at low prices. Most of the contractors have learned how to operate these machines and can afford to buy them.
Training centers have also opened in different areas to train people on how to operate these machines. These days there is a mechanized construction with modern machines and techniques everywhere. Government has also appreciated this effort of contractors and has started giving contracts to only those firms which have modern machineries. In the construction industry of Pakistan, these machines now become a profitable business and have opened new avenues for the construction industry.
Pakistanis moving at a fast pace towards international quality construction projects. During the last couple of years, the construction projects have been completed in time and also in a cost effective manner.
The contractors have learned about the construction machinery business and are now importing more modern machines because of its huge potential and demand in Pakistan.
New machineries come with new technologies and working methods that can further enhance the quality and speed of construction work. If contractors purchase machines like Skid Steer, Tele-Handler, Backhoe Loader, Miniloader etc. the speed of work can increase tremendously and can also raise the working capacity as well as profit margins and efficiency. Similarly, if these machines are purchased from rental companies, their business will also expand.
A problem which most contractors face these days is that it is common to see used machineries break down during work, leading to delayed projects. The contractors have to bear the maintenance cost of the machine and the late penalty charges for the project. Small contractors who usually take contracts for footpaths, houses, small roads, lying of pipelines etc. use Backhoe Loader which is a multiple tasking machine. It can be used as a Boldozer, Trencher, Lifter, Skid Steer, Tele-Handler and Mini Loader. Now the contractor can work on a number of projects simultaneously and can complete them in a short span of time.
U.S. and European countries after using old machines, they sell them and buy the new machines equipped with the latest technology. These old models are sold to countries like Pakistan. This is the reason why their projects are completed in a short time period. Countries like Pakistan spend ample amount of time in repairing old machines. Auto part dealers also import spare parts of construction machinery. Due to this reason,Korea and Japan get double profits, one part from selling latest models of machines and the rest by selling the spare parts for old and obsolete machines.
As Pakistanis a developing country, there is a huge demand of construction machineries and a great amount of work is yet to be done. In the past few decades, there have been a number of mega projects in Pakistan including roads, buildings and dams and still there are many projects underway like small dams, refineries, cement plants and a large number of housing societies in different parts of the country. Recently, work has also been initiated on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.
Enormous potential can be seen in the construction industry of the country in the coming years, and contractors will have to prepare themselves with new technologies and construction methods. If our contractors are not well prepared, international construction companies can take hold of these projects. Even today, a number of Japanese firms are working in different construction projects in Pakistan just because the local companies do not have the modern technology to complete the projects in less time and in a small budget with maximum efficiency. Now it is time for the contractors, to start using the latest machines instead of buying the used ones. By completing the projects on time, they will have more time to get new projects.
These days, a large number of engineers graduate from different universities in Pakistan and are in search of jobs. Organizations like SMEDA can provide them with opportunities to start their own businesses instead of job hunting. Loans, machineries or equipment can be provided to these new entrepreneurs with the help of credit banks. By this way they can utilize their professional skills in the construction industry which can grow further by having an educated lot of entrepreneurs.
Developing countries like Pakistan have yet to respond to recent technological improvements. Lack of response to technology, however, has not resulted in safer construction sites. In fact, a larger share of construction work being performed by human resources has led to increased number of site accidents.
Construction Safety Performance Scenario in Pakistan
Construction in developing countries, such as Pakistan and India, is more labor intensive than that in the developed areas of the globe, involving 2.5-10 times as many workers per activity. Typically workers tend to be unskilled and migrate in a group, with or without their families, throughout the country in search of employment. In fact, they are usually divided into various factions. In Pakistan, there is a significant difference between large and small contractors. Most large firms do have a safety policy, on paper, but employees in general are not aware of its existence. Nevertheless, a number of major constructors exhibit a concern for safety and have established various safety procedures. They also provide training for workers and maintain safety personnel on the job site. For the majority of contractors, however, maximizing profit is the prime concern. Unsafe conditions exist on many sites, both large and small, and laborers are subjected to numerous hazards. Lack of understanding of the job and poor equipment maintenance are also major causes of accidents.
One of the impeding factors that prevent Pakistan from developing a construction safety program is pervasive corruption, a by-product of the system of bureaucratic controls.
Compared to the past, the current decade is witnessing massive infrastructure growth in Pakistan. There are numerous infrastructure development projects in progress as well as under planning. All of these projects have the potential to lead the local Industry to gain glory, status and international recognition but only when appropriate efforts are extended to achieve the same. With the stage set for a golden era for development, the challenges are still higher. One of the important areas that require quick and drastic improvement is safety. It is highly essential that all occupational injuries and illnesses should be given due attention. There should be an effort to raise the level of awareness between both employees and employers of the importance of health and safety at work sites.