Construction stays steady

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THE construction sector will maintain its 8-percent to 9-percent growth this 2014.

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This was the projection of Manolito Madrasto, executive director of the Philippine Constructors Association, as he said the growth rate in value (of construction) would be as high as 40 percent.

He also asked the government to speed up the implementation of its projects under the private-public partnership (PPP) program.

Of this year’s construction growth, 30 percent would come from government and the bulk from private sector. “At best it would 65-percent private and 35-percent government,” he said.

Madrasto said demand for “affordable housing” units would be seen greater while for luxury housing, including high-end hotels, would be less.

Affordable housing includes condominiums and townhouses, which would come mostly from either overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), young professionals working abroad or high-earning call center agents looking for easier access to their workplaces, he said.

High-rise buildings built near areas where business process outsourcing (BPO) companies operate are now coming out like mushrooms.

“The highest demand is always in socialized housing, but the private sector does not want to go into that which is why government should shoulder socialized housing projects,” he added.

Madrasto expressed concerns about the production of substandard construction materials in the country, especially for relocation and rehabilitation centers for victims of calamities like Yolanda (Haiyan) last year.

“To say there is enough supply [of construction materials]means to accept the substandard, which is wrong and must be stopped,” he added.
He also said that the country still imports construction materials “because the market does not appreciate what is here.”

“If the local producers cannot produce what the market wants, then you cannot force the market to buy what it does not want.”

He belies claims of so called calamity-proof or -resistant structures, which could help lessen the loss of more lives, such as the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol and Cebu and Yolanda in the Visayas.

Madrasto stressed that there is no thing as such.

“We keep on telling people, especially the media, show us, because there is no such thing,” he said.

He cited instances such as the onslaught of hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Sandy in 2012 in the United States and the 6.3-magnitude earthquake in Kobe, Japan, in 1995.

He also added that these calamities have not prompted the governments of US and Japan to change their building codes to prevent further destruction in structures.

However, he explained that effects of natural calamities could only be mitigated. He cited the construction of concrete bunkhouses below ground as example. But when water sets in, the people drown, he said.

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