Friday, April 3, 2009

3. Construction

Yes, that is bamboo serving as scaffolding.

At any given point in time, all over this city, some kind of construction is buildings, apartments, roads, flyovers (bridges), etc. It is a common thing in one day to see many construction sites.

Construction work here takes a lot longer than it would in some other parts of the world. For example, our apartment building is still under construction (we've lived here 16 months). Many of the flats are complete and occupied, but there are several that are not. The one next door, for instance, is still being worked on, and we can here the pounding, drilling and banging from sun-up to sun-down.

Part of the reason that it takes so much longer here is that, what one machine could accomplish in one day, manual laborerss work to complete it for weeks. Machinery is expensive. Manual labor is not...and it provides jobs for the unemployed.

The laborers tend to move from job site to job site and city to city with their families. The men do the hard labor, women help by balancing a bowl full of dirt or other building materials on their heads and transport it from place to place (or they keep things tidy) and the children do odd and easy work and mostly watch and play while their parents work. The children are mostly never able to go to school because, one, they have no permanent residence to allow them to register for school and, two, they have no money to pay for uniforms and books.

Occasionally a landowner or a building company that hires the man will pay for the children to go to school and give the family a ration of food. The families often live in unfinished space in the building being constructed or in make-shift tents or sheds on the construction sites. Many temporary slums are near to large building projects. After the building is complete, the tents come down and the families move on to the next building site they can find.

No comments: