Foreign workers’ conundrums for construction sector

Labor shortage delays construction works in P/ling

The construction sector has been one of the most hit by the pandemic

The lack of skilled laborers has delayed many construction works and projects in the border town of Phuentsholing.

Many construction deadlines have come and gone for many contractors due to the lack of skilled workers.

While Phuentsholing has come a long way through the Covid-19 pandemic, the construction sector has been one of the most hit by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, there are countless constructions going on in the town. However, many construction sites are half completed or works have not even started.

Even the construction of infrastructure in the Phuentsholing Township and Development Project (PTD) Zone-A Package-I at Amochhu has been delayed due to the lack of skilled workers. The deadline has come and gone, and only over 70% of the work has been completed. The works that are already completed were done before March 2020.

The project is expected to bring in economic opportunities once it is completed. However, the work progress has not been moving fast. 

Most of the contractors say the main problem with the completion of projects or to start has been a challenge due to the shortage of human resources. 

Some contractors say that even with the presence of workers at the construction sites, there is a lack of skilled workers in the country. They say that most of the Bhutanese workers are not trained to do concrete and finishing works at the construction sites and getting skilled workers to do such works from outside the country takes a lot of time. 

A contractor in Phuentsholing, Sonam Phuentsho said with the winter timing being favorable, construction works need to be rushed and expedited before the summer arrives. 

He said he has come a long way through the pandemic and the works are pending as his construction site has only four foreign laborers right now.

Another contractor engaged in a small private construction firm said it has been really difficult to bring in foreign workers these days.

“Some say there are no quarantine facilities available, which is not true looking at the number of quarantine centers,” he added.

Further, the contractor said due to such reasons construction works have been affected and for some of the contractors, the works have started but they are not able to carry on as they are in need of skilled laborers.

Similarly, the contractor said Bhutanese workers do come in to work, but they do not have expertise.

“Bhutanese workers lack skills and there are other issues as well,” the contractor added.

Another contractor, Yeshey Needup said without foreign laborers, the only option to go is with Bhutanese workers who are not well skilled and charge higher.

He said, “Bhutanese laborers take more time to complete work and even waste materials.”

Contractors in Phuentsholing say that they would be grateful if authorities in Phuentsholing along with the government could look into this issue and come up with a solution.

Sonam Tashi from Phuentsholing