It’s back to business for manufacturers and contractors who on Thursday were finally able to resume work throughout the sector after an eight-week lockdown to mitigate the spread of covid19. Since April 6 until Thursday’s reopening, all non-essential activity in the country was halted. Schools, bars and most retailers are still closed until Government’s next evaluation.
Concrete block manufacturer Coosal’s, which had been shuttered temporarily during the restrictions, restarted operations in full Thursday and CEO Sieunarine Coosal said the group was very happy to be back online and getting people working again.
“Our concrete operations and block operations are fully back on and most of the hardware stores ran out of blocks. The reason being is when they got cement, cement goes hand in hand with gravel and blocks so people purchasing cement and not getting blocks or sand and gravel, they would have had a problem so, we are all extremely happy and excited to get back out there and get back in there like everybody else.”
The most important thing, he said about going back out to work, is adhering to social distancing and operating in a way that meets Ministry of Health standards to protect people’s lives.
The Coosal’s Group also supplies aggregate to the local market and Coosal’s son, Rajiv, noted that the company did receive special permission from the relevant authorities to provide WASA, an essential service with some truckloads of material, although that would have only been about ten days in total during lockdown.
At the Eastlake construction site in Arima, contractors Home Solutions, had employees on site in personal protective gear, including facemasks, and washing hands before entering the compound. “We are taking all precautions. It is very important,” a spokesman said.
Automotive services and suppliers are also allowed to reopen today. TT Automotive Dealers’ Association president Visham Babwah said that the organisation had been lobbying for these operations to be classified as essential since the start of the lockdown restrictions. People are still allowed to move about in their cars, he said, and would have needed service in case of an emergency.
He was still vocal, however, that dealerships need to be reopen, since he could not see the threat they would pose since buying a car wasn’t something that involved people congregating in large numbers. If dealerships aren’t allowed to reopen soon, he said, a number of small dealers could be in jeopardy, especially since like many businesses, they have still had to pay operational costs, including salaries, with basically no income. “It’s crunch time,” he said.
– With reporting by Angelo Marcelle and Jeff Mayers