Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Opinion on Current Situation of Construction Industry in Bhutan.

You put on your tap and the water flows, be there a day whereby water is absent, and all hell breaks lose and through. 

In order to build one water supply system, there is more than what meets the eye. Firstly, you need to accumulate that data of population, do your forecast of the population in coming stipulated amount of years. You then do your preliminary studies of availability of the water sources and then you do your calculations. How much discharge is required, what velocity it will have at so and so slope and then how deep you intend to keep your pipes below the ground. Then again you go back and forth, because the terrains change and so will your parameters of discharge, slope and velocity. Then you assign your pipes which will resist the pressure and velocity of given juncture. Which quality or make, you decide with your intuitions and calculations, to withstand for the designed amount of years. Sounds hectic and boring? It is at times. 

With age I feel that the cheaper the person you are, with lower standards in life, who can abstain fashion and taste of food, knack of fashion, the more worthy civil engineer you will make. Because, let's face it, there won't be luxurious toilets, expensive meals and let's not get to understand whether toilet papers will be available or not. Most often, many times, we find people from our profession alcoholic or binge drinkers, and like said to me by a very senior person: there's no pass time at site! Oh, and maybe that's the reason, why many have embraced infidelity for this particular reason - libido call blinds a man's vision and gives him amnesia of his family's existence. I was told that few of bigger companies even mix some medicines or chemicals to lower one's hormones. Perhaps, it was just a rumour, urban legend or myth, like those of head hunters. 

But not all are same, some remain faithful and loyal, and are honest - straight as Ashoka trees. 

We don't face problems of labour today, because let's be very much realistic. We are neighbour of India. The world's second largest population and one amongst leading/booming economy in Asia. There is no way that we can ever beat the Indian labour market, not because they are more skilled, but because the labour cost will always remain cheaper compared to our local manpower. Minimum wage you pay to a Bhutanese unskilled labour would be Nu. 500 per day while Nu. 350 would be their rate.

We need to take advantage of this, stop being too nationalist that we falsely gird our notions and plunge our country men to inferno of physical hardship and make them unskilled forever. What we really should look upon, is to enrich them with certain set of skills and make them in-charges and supervisors, but that's a distant dream because not many want to join Construction man force as of now. Not when the locations are remote, payments are not timely and of course, not many are up to take it as challenge. Construction industry is all about skills and talents, if you are skilled and talented, your age or your experience doesn't hold much of importance, you will eventually get paid as per your output. No mattered how much ever skilled an Indian Carpenter is, he can never beat Aap Zho (Carpenter) from Bhutan upon his knowledge for traditional architecture. And this is the industry that with time, you will learn how to make money: not much of thinking one has to do, it's all about commonsense and no nonsense. 

As of 2015's statistics, Construction forms 73.33% of nation's Private sector with Gross value of  Nu. 20,612.96 million, forming 15.61% of GDP. 

Albeit, material and transportation doesn't seem to be much of an issue, this is where the money  actually drains out of nation. As well acquainted by all, we are still import based economy, so a great chunk of amount is what we drain to India. Two major commodities like steel (TMT BARS) and cement, manufactured in Bhutan, have their contribution to retaining money within. But any material apart from those, are still being imported. We as a nation, should in fact support more entrepreneurs who can manufacture construction materials and not authorized dealers of particular companies - it isn't impossible. It will be hard and expensive in the beginning, but once the market catches up, I hope it does some good to us. Any economy will only be stable if the major chunk of their own currency is circulated within that particular nation, is what I have understood so far. And we are digging our own grave while we still continue to rely and import most of the construction materials from our neighbour. 

We however still have to rely and pray, at times wish for more skilled workers. We still don't have much skilled workers today, from the top level of Project Manager to Foreman. And this is lethal, because many businesses run out due to poor management and forecast of materials, and of course, wrong execution of works most often: yes, engineers fail to execute works as per drawings. Worse case scenario, not many engineers even claim bills with precise calculations. We have more of proud engineers than engineers who should be proud. 

I am not saying that I great at my work, but these are my observations over the time, working from different sides of tables: for client, contractor and consultants. 

So, next time you have a house with water for 24 hours, just know that, the designer, the contractor who built it and the engineer who executed that work - were simply a great team. Oh, and not to forget, sacrifice of family hours and libidos made that water supply work! 

Ps: This is just my opinion. I might be wrong, I haven't read any papers to write this. This is what I have observed, I might be wrong.