Nawaloka Holdings yesterday announced that the group would be launching its first overseas construction effort worth $ 60 million on the Maldivian island of Vakkaru.
The project is a 5-star luxury resort, designed by client EFZY Holdings Ltd. and will feature 150 villas with 55 water villas and 95 beach villas. The facility will also feature a spa and several restaurants.
Nawaloka Holdings Chairman Jayantha Dharmadasa said the group won the contract due to a string of high-profile domestic mega-projects including the Primo Sri Lanka silo in Trincomalee, Razvi Medical Complex, Road Development Authority Head Office in Battaramulla and the Cargils Square Super Market Complex in Jaffna.
“We work hard to ensure we finish projects within the given timeframe, under-budget and with overall good standards,” he added.
As the 70-year-old company has grown its operations within Sri Lanka, today its staff handles 15-20 projects at a time. The company has also expanded to include a Planning and Design Division to make up for a lack of in-house designers. Shareholders see international projects as the next logical step forward and hope to pursue contracts in South East Asia in the next two years.
“Having achieved and maintained a high standard in Sri Lanka, we are working with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to build infrastructure such as roads and waterways in Myanmar and Cambodia,” says Dharmadasa.
Nawaloka’s project in Vakkaru will require around 800 new jobs to complete within the contract time period of 20 months, shareholders say. However, only about 200-250 of these jobs will go to skilled Sri Lankan workers as the remainder require unskilled workers who are supposedly hard to find in Sri Lanka.
Nawaloka Holdings Director D. Sunil Abeyratna says: “The Sri Lankan workforce is too skilled so we struggle to find enough laborers for our projects. We will have to source our laborers from countries like Maldives, India and Bangladesh.”
Abeyratna argues that the proliferation of private tuk-tuks in Sri Lanka has monopolised much of the unskilled workforce thereby sucking up potential workers for the construction industry. “Many unskilled laborers go get tuk tuks and don’t want to work for construction, we don’t know why,” says Abeyratna.
According to shareholders, construction jobs pay up to Rs. 1,500 a day, coming up to an average of around Rs. 30,000 a month plus incentives and bonuses.
However, perceptions of safety and dignity lead workers to find different fields or migrate to countries where unskilled wages are higher.
Courtesy: Daily Financial Times 17 September 2015