This fantastic achievement is a significant milestone in what has been a very challenging year and is attributed to the culmination of hard work and a real collaborative approach towards a common goal.
Shortly after the outset of the COVID pandemic, the Republic of Ireland enforced their first national lockdown, halting all construction activity across the Republic for a total of seven weeks from the end of March 2020. This put considerable pressure on the supply chain but also gave Kajima the opportunity to evaluate and review how the project was being managed and roadmap some improvements.
As the initial lockdown restrictions began to ease, construction at the sites restarted under revised working practices (Standard Operating Procedures) in line with new COVID health and safety guidelines issued by the Government. Revisions were quickly made to ensure the sites were safe and productivity could be maintained or where possible, improved. This involved ensuring social distancing whilst on site, adding additional welfare facilities, employing workforce track and trace as well as introducing dedicated COVID officers to visit each site to continuously monitor the working environment. As a multi-site project covering eight sites across the Republic, all construction workers and site management were re-classified as key workers to enable them to travel, unrestricted, across the project sites. The new procedures, which are still in place, gave the local communities much needed reassurance and ensured that confirmed cases of COVID have been limited to 12 site operatives across a workforce peaking at around 700 in February 2021.
Further site closures in line with two more national lockdowns have subsequently been avoided by Kajima applying and being granted essential site status by the National Housing Association. This designation was granted in recognition of the projects national importance in easing the burden on vulnerable people who were waiting for appropriate social housing accommodation. This has allowed construction partners to continue working on selected properties and enable a phased handover of the completed projects.
We expect the first tenants to be in their new homes in the coming months and will continue to roll out new properties for occupation until the end of July 2021.