Wages reduced by half
Mahfuz Emran: About 3.5 million construction workers have no work at the moment due to stagnation of ongoing construction works for the skyrocket price hike in the recent days. The family of the workers have been passing miserable life.
Hasan from Rangpur lost his job to a private company in the Corona epidemic. He has a family of four members with two children and a wife. After losing his job, he was forced to start a vegetable business to provide food for his family. However, due to lack of sufficient capital, the business did not last long. He then started working as a construction worker in a building under construction. HSC pass Hasan soon became a mechanic. At that time his daily income including food bill was Tk 700.
The family of four members was doing very well with this money. He also built a small house in the village by saving some money. Everything was going pretty well. But suddenly a black cloud came down in his arranged world.
Prices of construction materials have risen at an unusual rate in the country’s market since the Russia-Ukraine war. The owner of the building could not continue the construction that Hasan was working on due to increase in the price of construction materials. As a result, the work stopped. You can’t get a new job. In this situation, he is lost in the thought of running the family and providing for the education of the children.
On the other hand, as the days go by, the balance of debt is getting heavier to buy other products including daily necessities. If he continues like this, he may have to leave this city.
Hamid, Tiles Mistry and Hasan’s elder brother said the same thing. He said that due to the increase in the price of rod in the world market, the domestic companies have also increased the prices of other construction materials. Housing companies have stopped work for the time being due to fear of losses.
I don’t know when the work will be in full swing again. Even if you have one or two jobs, the wages are low. Where I used to get Tk 600 a day, now I have to do it for Tk 300 to Tk 350. This work is also irregular again.
‘We are about to sit on the road as work is stopped. I never touched anyone. But now there is no money in hand. I was forced to stand in line for hours at TCB’s trucks to buy goods for my family.’
Labor leader said. Wajedul Islam Khan said that the construction workers were in distress as the construction work was stopped. These workers need to be supported, albeit in a limited way. If necessary, low interest loans can be arranged, which are repayable. Businesses involved in the housing industry can make proposals to the government so that they can receive financial assistance.
He further said that no sector can continue without keeping the workers hungry. It is up to the government to ensure that all low-income people and workers get daily necessities. They (workers) have to make sure that they get TCB ration card.
At present, the prices of construction materials have increased abnormally in the country’s market. The price of rod, an essential building material in the construction industry, has broken all records so far. In the last two weeks, the price per ton of rod has increased by about Tk five to six thousand. In the retail market, rod has exceeded Tk 90,000 per tonne. At the same time, cement is being sold at record prices. Also, the prices of other building materials have reached the highest level in just one and a half months. Bricks, cobbles and sand are being sold at higher prices.
Work on the ongoing project has halved due to rising prices of construction materials. Many housing companies have stopped work on their projects altogether, according to construction officials. Their fear is that the cost of construction is increasing more than the stipulated budget as the construction cost has skyrocketed.
The price of a flat or apartment can go up from a minimum of Tk 800 to Tk1,000 per square foot or more. Besides, uncertainty has also arisen over the employment of more than 35 lakh people in 269 sectors involved in housing.
Construction has come to a standstill as the prices of construction materials in the country’s market have been steadily rising. There is stagnation in the accommodation. Sales of flats and apartments have come down to zero. Investments in housing companies have also stalled.
And small real estate companies are not selling their ready-made flats for fear of losses due to rising prices of everything. They may decide to sell after seeing the market situation in a few more days. Ready projects of other big companies also do not meet the buyer. A large part of the buyers are thinking, buy everything if the price is affordable.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Association of Construction Industry (BACI) has demanded that the rate schedule of all departments, including the Department of Public Works (PWD), be updated in line with the current market price of rod-cement and other construction materials. Former president of the organization Sheikh Mohammad. Rafiqul Islam said the price of rod has increased by 61 percent per tonne in one year from March 2021 to March 2022.
Besides, prices of cement have gone up by 22 per cent per bag, stone by 24 per cent per cubic foot, bricks by 22 per thousand per cubic foot, coarse sand by 50 per cent per cubic foot and bitumen by 36 per tonne. At the same time, the price of electric cable (1.5 BYA) has increased by 94 percent. In this situation, if the price is not adjusted in the ongoing government projects, the traders of this sector will have to lose their capital.
In this regard, Azizur Rahman Aziz, office secretary of Building Construction Workers Union Bangladesh (Insab) told that many construction works have been stopped due to rising prices of construction materials in the country. And due to the closure of work, most of the 4 million building construction workers in the country are now unemployed. Those who are working, their wages have also decreased. Although this situation is temporary, the owners have to cooperate with the workers. At the same time the government can also provide temporary financial assistance (repayable loan) for these workers.
Kamal Mahmud, vice-president (first) of the Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB), an association of real estate traders, said construction has come to a standstill due to rising prices of construction materials. The cost of the project has gone up as the prices of construction materials including rods, cement, bricks and sand have skyrocketed. It has to spend more than the fixed price. If the cost increases, it also affects the buyer. The price of a flat or apartment can increase from a minimum of Tk 800 to Tk 1100 per square foot.
The entire construction sector is making a significant contribution to the national economic growth through the expansion of 279 types of linkage industries associated with housing. The prices of all the products have not increased in the international market. But in our country the price of everything has gone up. The government has to take steps in this regard. Otherwise, 4 million workers dependent on this sector will face severe losses. The affected workers are being assisted by their respective companies.
However, the businessman expressed hope that if the situation improves, the real estate business will turn around again.
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