Actions to regulate the current state of the construction industry was called for by Junior Minister for Trade and Investment Hon. Marlon Penn who announced that unscrupulous workers are making the rebuilding process stressful.
While addressing trade and consumer matters during his budget contribution on 27 April the Junior Minister explained that as home and business owners push to get their properties ready before the hurricane season begins on 1 June persons in the building sector are cashing in big.
In fact, the Junior Minister stated that the situation has turned into a sort of free-for-all where even construction labourers are taking on contractor projects. “People who were sifting sand before Irma are big contractors now…charging $200 a day,” Hon. Penn said.
One generic labourer who sealed some holes of the roof of a Road Town business charged $300 for a mere 4 hours job; some other fly-by-night workmen claiming to qualify as plummers, cabinet makers, painters, electricians demand a down payment never to be seen again; in one case a carpenter asked the building owner to buy $1,500 worth of lumber to a location, once the lumber was delivered the smart fellow was never seen again.
The unpredictability of the weather and recent abnormal daily showers and high winds are said to be exasperating the worry and frustration of those with roofs, windows and doors in need of repairs. This was also cited as the reason some construction workers are taking on even more jobs than they can handle. In fact, Hon. Penn said that some construction workers are doing as much as three jobs a day.
One pensioner told this newspaper: “It should be easy to catch them and place stiff fines on their heads, or deport them as persona non grata, government knows better!”
Additionally, the Junior Minister stated that the matter raises a social issue as the busy construction workers are robbing social services such as NHI and Social Security. “They are not just stealing from the people who are trying to get their homes repair but they are stealing from the social system and the tax system,” Hon. Penn said.
He explained that people who are registered for $80 per day salaries and are paying social security for that amount are now making $150 and more, while the social security and NHI are not benefiting from the excess.
The Junior Minister called it predatory and said that it is causing further stress on people who are already stressed. Hon. Penn also called for a crackdown on the people who are guilty of this construction advantage.