PETALING JAYA (Aug 18): While the slow adoption of the Industrialised Building System (IBS) is mainly caused by the lack of awareness and high implementation cost, the Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) today pointed out that the slow progress of amending the Uniform Building By-Laws (UBBL) is also hampering the implementation process.

“How fast IBS can be fully implemented also depends on how fast the required changes in the UBBL can be made. The by-laws in each state has to be standardised before IBS can move forward in full swing,” said MBAM honorary advisor and past president Datuk Ng Kee Leen at a press conference after the MBAM Affiliates Dialogue 2017 today.

MBAM president Foo Chek Lee added that the amendments to UBBL are necessary to standardise the measurements of IBS pre-fab components to achieve economies of scale.

“There are IBS pre-fab components of all different sizes and shapes. What the government is trying to do is to standardise the measurements to be used in all projects — just like the standardised Lego toy bricks. Only with that can we achieve economies of scale,” said Foo.

He said MBAM is fully supportive of the implementation of IBS but there are issues to be solved before the system can be widely used in the industry to achieve its full benefits such as the reduction in on-site labour, cost and time savings, and consistency in quality.

“The number one problem is the issue of manpower as we would need to train more skilled workers not only for on-site construction but also on design and manufacturing. All the skilled talents have to be in place before IBS can be implementied in full swing,” Foo said.

He added that MBAM has taken measures to train local IBS talents and so far two batches of talents have been trained and one more batch will be trained in September.

Other issues include high machinery cost and related taxes. “What we have now [equipment and machinery] are not sufficient to cater to the demand because the cost is so high. The government should look into how to lower the cost and taxes to make IBS more affordable. We suggest having incentives to the local contractors and lower the tax of imported machineries.”

Even though the adoption of IBS is still slow, Foo said the national targets of 50 IBS points next year and 100 in three years remain unchanged.

“We are trying to fulfil the target. There are many challenges ahead but we need to carry on or our industry will be left out in the international market,” Foo noted.

At the affiliates dialogue today, MBAM also discussed the setting up of Central Labour Quarters (CLQ), the enforcement of scaffoldings and the rehiring of construction foreign workers programme.

“We support the concept of the CLQ, but we need to work out the logistics. It has to be in a strategic location so no extra time and cost are incurred for transiting worker to the work place. Also, for projects of short duration — say, within six months to one year — and projects located in the outskirts, we think it is not practical to have a CLQ,” Foo said.

Meanwhile, Foo also urged contractors to use the certified scaffolding to ensure safety in the construction site and the quality of the project. “We have seven scaffolding suppliers approved by the Construction Industry Development Board. We think it is sufficient to cater to the market demand.”

MBAM also called on the government to review the rehiring programme, especially for short-term projects.

“Many contractors cannot afford the fees and the process is taking too long. We propose that the government give a certain worker quota to the CLAB (Construction Labour Exchange Bhd) so contractors could ‘rent’ the workers for short-term projects for better time and cost efficiency,” Foo said.

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