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Construction Industry Has To Keep Up With Technology: Gordon

  technology is transforming the construction industry, and those who fail to keep up will be left behind, says Construction Industry Council president Gordon Jenkins. Mr Jenkins comments came on
15 Jun 2018 12:11
Construction Industry Has To Keep Up With Technology: Gordon
The participants of the 2018 Construction Industry Council Conference at the Warwick Fiji on the Coral Coast on June 14. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

 

technology is transforming the construction industry, and those who fail to keep up will be left behind, says Construction Industry Council president Gordon Jenkins.

Mr Jenkins comments came on the eve of the council’s inaugural conference that starts today in Warwick Fiji on the Coral Coast – for which over 350 delegates have registered.

With top Government officials present, the conference will give industry players a unique opportunity to collectively voice their concerns and formulate solutions for a wide array of issues.

Technology adoption is expected to be chief among them.

“We are still way back in the dark ages – about 20 to 50 years back,” Mr Jenkins, who is an industry veteran with 50 years of experience, said.

“There is a lot of technology that doesn’t come to Fiji and it should come here – we simply have to keep up. For example, green construction. It’s all about using solar systems and other natural sources to generate electricity and things like that.

“There’s a thing called Building Information Modelling (BIM), which makes everyone’s job on a project easy but nobody here knows anything about it.”

The conference comes as competition for both projects and workers in the construction industry intensifies. The Reserve Bank of Fiji expects construction and investment related activity to pick up in the coming months.

In its economic review ending May 2018, the RBF says activity will be “underpinned” by post-disaster rehabilitation works as well as the ongoing private and public sector projects.

But Mr Jenkins believes there are still elements in the local construction industry that are making investors reluctant.

Mr Jenkins is also director of Rawlinsons Jenkins Limited, who offer construction cost consultancy, and services such as quantity surveying and cost engineers.

“A lot of investors are detracted and have been disappointed by the integrity of some building contractor, which is something we will be talking about,” he said.

“In Fiji, we don’t need a whole of ‘cowboys’ in the market, who are looking for a fast buck and are not producing.

“Personally, I believe, you should earn your money – earn a lot of it but earn it properly.”

Another issue that is expected to recur is the lack of skilled labour in the industry.

Companies and contractors have long complained about the limited local talent pool, with some having to ferry in staff from the cheaper Asian labour markets.

“The need to train quality construction workers in Fiji is very, very urgent,” Mr Jenkins said.

“Whenever youre doing any training at all, it takes years to get it done and our export money is going out the door because we haven’t looked after our own as we should be.

“It won’t be good for us until in three or four years’ time, but it’s got to start; if you don’t start now, there is no immediate answer but we need to progress on it.”

 

Tradeshow

Government is working to improve enforcement around standard building products like screws and roofing coils, says Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya.

Mr Koya was speaking at yesterday’s Construction Council Conference trade show opening that has given the space to 18 exhibitors to display their best and most valuable products.

The first step in this plan to raise standards will be done “through the issuance of import licenses for cyclonic screws and roofing coils.”

“This is to ensure the all materials entering the Fijian market, are compliant to the Fijian Building Standards,” Mr Koya said.

“Having said that, I am happy to mention that we have 14 local companies who have already applied for import licenses.

“There are seven from the Central Division, 6 from the Western Division and one from the Northern Division.

“We however, anticipate an increase in these numbers in years to come, and I encourage you all to do the same and continue to uplift your standards.”

The trade show will run parallel to the conference.

Fifteen exhibitors at the show are local and include major companies like R.C Manubhai and Basic Industries Limited.

The availability of quality and innovative products in the market are expected to feature prominently at the inaugural conference.

Feedback:  maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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