In Singapore, the construction sector accounted for about four per cent of Singapore's total gross domestic product in 2019. The Building and Construction Authority of Singapore projected the total construction demand to be up to 35 billion Singapore dollars in 2023. However, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has reversed the modest growth that the construction sector had in 2019.
The construction industry had experienced several years of negative growth before an upswing in 2019. Boosting this growth is Singapore's largest road project, the North-South Corridor, which is set to be completed by 2026. This was to be supported by Singapore's large pipeline of infrastructure projects, such as the Changi Airport Terminal 5 and the expansion of the rail network. The public sector was projected to make up about 60 percent of construction demand in 2020 and expected to reach up to 20.5 billion Singapore dollars, more than a billion dollars higher than in 2019. By comparison, growth in private sector construction was not as robust, with demand projected to be lesser the value of contracts awarded in this sector in 2019.
Singapore's construction sector relied heavily on migrant labor, the majority of whom come from neighboring Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar. Construction work is not seen as an attractive job for most Singaporeans, due to the long hours, physical exertion, and safety risks. In order to reduce the amount of fatalities, the Ministry of Manpower worked with the Singapore Contractors Association and the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council to organize an industry safety timeout. Inspections targeting high-risk sectors such as construction, marine and manufacturing have been increased.
Impact of COVID-19 on Singapore's construction sector
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, highlighted a different type of danger faced by migrant workers in construction in Singapore. Construction work was not halted in the beginning of the outbreak, leading to greater chances of exposure. Furthermore, the accommodation provided these workers are largely crowded and have inadequate sanitary facilities, making it difficult to adhere to social distancing and basic hygiene practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As of June 2020, the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 cases in Singapore were migrant workers, many of whom work in construction. Between April and June, 2020, these workers were placed under quarantine, essentially putting a stop to all construction work in Singapore.
The negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy has also affected Singapore’s construction sector. The decrease in foreign direct investments due to low business sentiments globally is expected to hit Singapore’s buildings sector especially hard. By comparison, the infrastructure sector, which is almost wholly government-funded, was expected to rebound from the crisis sooner.
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In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 26 most important statistics relating to "Construction industry in Singapore".