Vantage View: First Prefab Plant for ‘Naya Pakistan’ Homes

IRSHAD SALIM — The PTI-led government has tapped A) pre-fabricated low-cost building structures as the way to go with its B) Naya Pakistan Housing program. Leading the emerging C) supply chain for the mega initiative, will be a Chinese (I assume private) company. The firm has reportedly agreed to bring in D1) foreign investment, D2) transfer technology, and D3) export finished products– its participation in the houding initiative as a vendor or vendor/builder is not clear though– in either case, it could be a big plus (D4).

Stacking up these pre and post construction priorities appear to be a good construct. Prioritizing ‘time is of the essence’, transfer of technology, export and setting up related supply chain before taking off the huge nationwide initiative (rather than in exuberance) can be considered good SCORE (Strategic Control of Resource Elements) moves.

SCOPE (Strategic Control of Project Elements) remains to be seen though, once all the ducks fall in a row.

Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony of a pre-fab plant by leading Chinese company Henan DR Construction Group in Faisalabad, held at the PM House, Mr. Khan highlighted the fact that prefab construction is the best option for low-cost and quicker housing set-up, as practiced in many countries of the region. No one can deny that– substantial value could be added timewise and costwise if all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are slashed with integrity and transparency. If these homes can replace shanties in the slums and help develop affordable housing clusters for the low to middle income earners elsewhere, the public policy and trade off elements would gel well– something which has been amiss in our country for decades for various reasons.

These prefab houses will be constructed, Khan said, in big cities like Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. It makes sense, as the huge demand envelope for such housings exists in these fast growing cities which being our economic power houses attract economic migrants from the rural areas.

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That construction of prefabricated houses and apartments takes only a few months as compared to traditional construction technique –that usually takes up several years– was highlighted by the PM and is undeniable.

Chairman Henan DR Construction Group Huang Daoyuan said his company which will set up the prefab factory in Faisalabad’s Special Economic Zone will help the country earn foreign exchange through export of construction materials and would also meet the domestic demands. Chairman China Machinery Engineering (CMEC) Zhang Chun said the company will prepare the building materials which could be purchased by local and international construction companies. Makes sense.

Hopefully, all of the above (all said and done) will uptick Pakistan’s ease of doing business Index, and the Pakistan Opportunity Index (POI).

PS: A substantial portion of our hitherto undocumented real estate sector and the construction industry would become ‘transparent’, regularized, documented, taxed, taxable and therefore part of GDP, etc. (formal economy).

The author is an advisor, consultant and analyst. He’s presently based in Islamabad.