- Industry Rings Alarm Bells
Shocking revelations of how certain micro, small and medium government construction works have had been given to village level ”building” societies with no proper construction experience or certification by state mandate was revealed to this reporter by two private contractors on Tuesday.
Around 2007 such organizations were mandated to do jobs which were Rs 500,000 and under, Sunil P. Liyanarachchi, 1st Vice Chairman National Construction Association of Sri Lanka (NCASL) told this newspaper. But about two years ago the cut-off value was uplifted to Rs. two million, he said.
NCASL is the apex body of the local construction industry, counting some 3,500 members, both from the public and private sectors, he said. “All of our members are registered with the Institute of Construction Training and Development (ICTAD), the Government regulator for the construction industry, thereby ensuring that minimum construction standards, covering safety, et al, are met,” he said.
But the same cannot be said of the small builders who have been mandated by the Government to carry out such small village/rural level construction works and road building, Liyanarachchi said.
Most of them are not registered with ICTAD, thereby the unanswered question is how safe are their construction works, he said.
“Accidents have taken place in such construction works,” added L.U. Dharmapriya, Chairman Navodha Engineering (Pvt) Ltd., a construction firm that is into building luxury houses. However he was unable to say whether anyone suffered injuries due to such faulty construction works.
The institutes which are authorized to enter into such works are organizations such as school building societies where the principal signs as the contractor representative, he said. The question is can an educationist sign on as a building contractor? asked Dharmapriya.
There is the absence of an engineer in several such organizations, he said
Some of the other institutions which have been mandated to carry out such construction works are those attached to Sanasa development societies, village/rural hospital societies and such like.
“Another problem that has cropped up because of this arrangement is that our members belonging to the micro, small and medium categories have been deprived of work,” said said Liyanarachchi.
“At a meeting with Construction Minister Wimal Weerawansa on Monday we suggested that such works should be given to ICTAD registered contractors,” he said. Weerawansa had said that he would take up this matter with the Government.