Move to curb labour accommodation at construction sites

MUSCAT: Accommodating workers at construction sites will soon come to an end as it is found to be violating the municipality norms and safety of workers.

The Public Affairs Committee of Muscat Municipality, at its fourth meeting this year, reviewed the proposal to issue an order to stop such practices. The members of the committee emphasised on the necessity to update rules on the establishment of a camp for workers at construction sites.  However, the curbs don’t apply to those companies which accommodate workers in properly maintained portacabins that meet the standards prescribed by the authorities.

“Some contractors resort to making labour accommodations on construction sites that are inconsistent with security and safety measures and are distorting the national efforts to maintain the hygienic standards of the surroundings,” said Qais bin Muhammad al Ma’shari, Chairman of the Committee.

Many sub-contractors as well and some major companies find it convenient to provide labour accommodation to save rent, transport and time.

“This move to curb accommodating workers at the construction site is a good step towards supporting the builders and contractors,” says Shahswar al Balushi, consultant of the construction sector.  “Having said, this will affect the medium sized companies whose overheads are relatively high and the construction cost would go high with the new decision. By and large, this sector accommodates nearly 250,000 workers.”

However, this rule doesn’t apply to those companies which accommodate their workers in properly maintained portacabins that meet the standards prescribed by the authorities.

“A set of HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) standards needs to be maintained at the portacabins at the construction sites and we make it a point to implement the same in accordance with the prescribed standards”, says Sheena Dath, Operations Manager, Rima Services Trading and Contracting LLC, which runs several construction sites in the city.

Appointing a HSE officer, maintaining HSE records, holding HSE meetings and inspection on a daily basis are some other measures to be followed while accommodating labourers at the construction sites, she said.  “The overhead expenses of the project are deterring many companies from implementing these measures.”