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Early curfew exemption aided 7% construction growth

Production of Carib cement has increased during the COVID-19 period

Local builders have joined the Caribbean Cement Company Limited (CCCL) in crediting the Government’s decision to relax nightly curfew rules affecting the construction industry as early as last April with aiding the promising recovery in that sector.

The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) last week reported a seven percent growth in the construction subsector in the July-September quarter, which has boosted hopes within the industry for a quicker-than-expected return to normal production levels in 2021, as well as offering evidence of a predicted major turnaround in the economy during the year.

CCCL General Manager Yago Castro recently attributed the record 940,000 metric tonnes of cement manufactured in 2020 to the company’s capital investment and the expertise of its employees, as well as Government policies including its management of the pandemic and, specifically, the removal of curfew limitations in April.

“The market responded opposite to what might have been expected, given the pandemic. Instead of slowing down, construction grew, and we kept in step with our customers by meeting their demand consistently. We will continue to ramp up production as the market grows,” Castro explained.

“The Government of Jamaica assessed the situation well and allowed critical sectors to continue operating, once certain protocols were followed. Prioritising health, while keeping economic goals in mind, has mitigated the negative impact on our sector. Moreover, we saw tremendous performance from our team, who remained focused, and I am really proud of their commitment,” he added.

In an interview with the Business Observer, president of the Incorporated Master Builders Association of Jamaica (IMAJ) Lenworth Kelly agreed with the presumption, although noting that a continuing resumption of construction projects which had been halted by COVID-19 earlier in the year, as well as the long delayed start-up to buildings projects which were delayed since January, 2020, also impacted the figures.

“When COVID-19 came, there was an immediate slowdown about March to June, as the results were new to everybody, including the Government, which was still trying to find its way. Some of us kept working, but things slowed down significantly,” Kelly stated.

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