SUNBIZ

Wait for the Construction Development Boom to Start

Now that the General Election is over and the country can see four more years of the same policies, we can ex­pect a very large lift in the number of
24 Nov 2018 11:00
Wait for the Construction Development Boom to Start
Carpenters Fiji have embarked on a multi-million-dollar foreshore development in Suva’s Central Business District. Its subsidiary, Carpenters Properties Limited have started developing the 10 acres of waterfront, prime real estate for what it says will be one of the country’s finest tourism and real estate developments. Photo: Maraia Vula

Now that the General Election is over and the country can see four more years of the same policies, we can ex­pect a very large lift in the number of devel­opments in the country.

Effects of the general election

For some strange reason a general election has an effect on the thinking of developers and investors which causes them to hold up starting any infrastructure work until the re­sult of the election is known

This is a herd instinct that is not just appar­ent in Fiji.

Right now the same thing is happening in Australia because there needs to be a nation­al election shortly and the outcome there is somewhat clouded.

The mid-term election in the USA had a similar effect on business and the investment market is only now starting to settle down.

The United Kingdom is also going through a similar period of uncertainty because of the proposed exit from the European Union and business is very unsettled, although in this case there is probably cause for concern given the status of the negotiations for Brexit right at this time.

But the really interesting thing is that, at least in Fiji, the effect was to hold up the start of project, but, in most cases, the planning and preparation was not affected and work went forward but stopped at the physical commencement of work on the ground.

There has been a lot of activity amongst the service providers to the development and investment industries, to the point where professions such as architecture and engi­neering are reporting significant levels of activity in preparation planning.

Some of the plans were in the finished stag­es some time ago and are just sitting waiting for the start button to be pushed

This activity is not only in tourism related projects but in manufacturing infrastruc­ture, residential housing development, trans­port and retail infrastructure.

Agriculture is another sector

Agriculture is another sector that has the potential to make up considerable invest­ment in both expanded activity in existing businesses and in the introduction of new developments.

Even basic industries such as mining, quar­rying and timber are showing signs that they will join the rush.

Experts encouraging business

For many months now a number of experts have been trying to encourage businesses to start immediately, on the basis that the sup­ply of workers and the availability of materi­als was good now.

They were making the point that once the growth of activity started the demand would increase rapidly for both workers and mate­rial and prices would increase almost imme­diately, not to mention the shortages.

All of these effects are already being ob­served and right now that prediction is being realised.

In the construction industry there is in­creased demand for people, from the basic labourer right through the range of skills to management.

To get the people a number of operators are already offering increased wages and ben­efits.

There is also an outbreak of grumbling about there not being enough focussed edu­cation to turn out workers, a complaint from the industry that seems to be a bit late as it takes at least six months to turn out even the most basic tradesman.

Any business in the segments that will be involved in the expansion are going to be very aware of the need to ensure that they retain all their workforce and this will inevi­tably lead to better wages and benefits, with a number of operators already considering or actually adding benefits outside those tradi­tionally offered, including medical payment support.

Of course, there were people who heeded the advice are they are now very well placed.

Some are on the mainland, such as the new Fiji Airways Flight Academy complex at Namaka, the huge expansion at Plantation Resort and the new Hanger and training fa­cility centre for ATS at Nadi airport, as well as several residential developments in the Greater Suva area.

In the pipeline and about to be started on the ground are a number of tourism related projects that will add much needed capacity to the industry.

There a number of seriously large civil engineering projects preparing land for con­struction development, with one outstanding example opposite the Fiji Airways hanger in Nadi.

Throughout Fiji there is a demand for resi­dential housing that is reasonably priced and there are several investors with plans in this area.

There are also at least two new retail malls of the type and size seen overseas in the pipe­line and possibly more.

It is very difficult to get any concise infor­mation on projects in the planning phase but anecdotal evidence supports the claims that actual projects to start shortly will exceed anything that Fiji has ever seen.

One of the longer term benefits of this surge in investment and construction will be the workers of Fiji, with a significant increase in the number of long-term jobs that will be created when the development is completed and operating.

This can only be good for the Fiji economy and for the citizens of Fiji.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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