Implementation of mechanisation in the construction industry as Economic Development Policy (EDP) 2016 demands will require a blue print to begin with. This is what contractors said at the annual general meeting of the Construction Association of Bhutan (CAB).

Clause 7.7.4 of the EDP states: “Mechanisation of the construction industry shall be promoted and made mandatory in a phased manner and wherever feasible. Towards this end, approaches to award of public works that foster specialisation shall be introduced and promoted such as design and build, build and maintain etc.”

Construction industry a major driver of economy in the country contributes 16.86 percent to Gross Domestic Products.

General secretary of CAB, Wangdi Gyeltshen, said that mechanisation of the industry will ensure quality, efficiency, and productivity in the sector. “Mechanisation is mainly for professional development so that contractors can specialise in a particular field.”

This, he said, would also help achieve clause 7.7.2 of EDP 2016, which states that contractors shall be encouraged to specialise in specific areas of construction namely road, tunneling, dams, bridges, buildings…and clause 7.7.7 which says that the government shall encourage Foreign Direct Investment in construction industry.

Wangdi Gyeltshen said the industry is moving towards mechanisation as many contractors have the appropriate machineries. Contractors are, however, found to be reluctant to invest in buying machines as the overhead cost is high. “Concrete mixers and vibrators cost the minimum about Nu 200,000 and maximum is for excavators which cost about Nu 7,000,000. Even if all the contractors buy all the necessary machineries, if they do not get work, they are at loss.”

A contractor from Dagana said that even for a small project, at least three different machines are required. He said that because of the high cost when buying and high lending rates, there is no profit for the contractors.  “When a Construction Development Corporation’s machine is brought to work in Dagana, we have to pay Nu 200,000 transportation cost to and from Bumthang on top of paying the driver and for fuel. Even if we buy the machines, we cannot easily find places to keep them when there is no work, which puts a dent on our profit.”  He added that after the completion of a project, machine that they invest in become useless.

Wangdi Gyeltshen said that contractors are also unwilling to invest in machines because they are unable to predict the extent of the work. “If we have a blue print, a master work plan, it will specify the amount of work to be done in a certain period. Then the contractors can go for specialisation in a particular field, which would make mechanisation of the industry possible.”

Director of Construction Development Board (CDB), Phub Rinzin, said that works and human settlement ministry is in the process of drafting construction development policy, which would include a construction blueprint as well.  “I have also discussed with the secretary of finance ministry about World Bank and CDB working together to analyse the situation of the construction industry and to plan developmental activities to be achieved by the sector within 2030.”

Karma Cheki