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Meeting maps new ideas for local construction industry

Filipe Naigulevu
Monday, December 04, 2017

FIJI's Construction Implementation Unit (CIU) aims to closely work with the Construction Industry Council (CIC) and relevant stakeholders in ensuring both the private sector and Government "build back better."

And to map the way forward for this engagement, the head of government's CIU Shah Mohammed recently met the council to discuss issues of common interest.

The 10-member CIU was established under the Ministry of Economy after TC Winston last year, to oversee efficient rehabilitation works around the country.

During the meeting, Mr Mohammed supported calls by the CIC for tighter controls over accreditation and licensing of industry players.

"After TC Winston we noticed a lot of overnight construction firms setting up. This is why Government has opted to outsource directly to consultant engineers for all major projects, instead of dealing with individual contractors ourselves," Mr Mohammed said.

"Something we did was re-define project tender specifications to allow for contractors to use alternative options for building materials, which is why we included the term "or equivalent" in our contracts."

He said this also opened up the local market to other "credible suppliers, breaking the previous practice of exclusivity.

Mr Mohammed added that post TC Winston rehabilitation works also taught a valuable lesson not to rely on traditional building materials such as cement, timber or steel.

"All these materials were out of stock. It's time we adopted new designs and explored alternatives that incorporate sustainable and climate resilient materials like in Europe," he said.

Mr Mohammed also highlighted that there was an urgent need to "re-think the artistic aspect of the industry" which was closely linked to training and education.

"Educating our building contractors is one thing. Educating their workers is another challenge," Mr Shah said.

CIC president Gordon Jenkins urged members to take full advantage of the presence of senior Government representatives and such engagements.

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