Construction Boom Boosts Use of Cranes, Lifts

Published: Tuesday, 11 November 2014 Written by Fortune Sunday 09 November 2014 Page: 12

With construction booming in Addis Abeba there has been a comparable increase in the use of construction machinery such as lifts and cranes, as a means of replacing manual labour.

“The trend of using cranes and lifts has increased over the last five years,” says Fisseha Assefa, site manager at a 12 storey apartment building under construction on Africa Avenue.

With the increase in high rise buildings, Fisseha’s company has purchased a 100,000 Br lift to move materials to upper floors. The lift originally went to the sixth floor, but the company extended it to the twelfth floor,at a cost of 6,500 Br per floor.

Using such machines cuts construction time and avoids wastage of materials and reduces accidents that occur if labour is used to transport materials.

Tower cranes are also becoming a common fixture at any major construction site. A more expensive alternative to lifts, they are hard to miss, rising tens of metres high into the air. The tower crane requires just one person to operate and it lifts steel, concrete and other building materials.

“Tower cranes are essential in accelerating the construction process, and reducing manpower, as they can carry close to four tonnes,” says Kebede Bogale, a tower crane operator at a 15 storey building on Africa Avenue, close to Dembel City Centre.

Samuel Taffesse, the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Sunshine Construction Plc, has bought two tower cranes worth one million Birr each from Dubai. The first was imported five years ago and the other was bought last year. He shares the same view as Kebede. His company uses one crane on four different buildings, while the other works on the construction of the international hotel brand Marriott Hotel, currently underway in front of Bole Medhanialem Church.

“A crane can do the job of 50 people” Samuel explains.

While tower cranes are pivotal in increasing performance and reducing labour, sometimes by as much as 200pc, they are also expensive, reports private construction company Rama Construction Plc. This is why other firms use lifts.

Construction lifts transport materials vertically. Although they cannot carry as much weight as a tower crane, they take the burden from labourers who would otherwise have to do the strenuous work of carrying heavy materials up many flights of stairs.

It has become crucial to use such machinery in construction projects because using labourers to transport heavy materials up a high rise building is hazardous and wasteful. A construction lift takes just six seconds to ascend each floor, says Fisseha, who uses construction lifts instead of tower cranes because of the comparative cost saving.

“When labourers transport concrete, for example, they tend to spill a lot. This is wasteful, consumes a lot of energy and causes accidents,” said Fisseha.

New and emerging manufacturers of construction lifts have sprung up to meet the rising demand for them. One such company is F.Y. Constructions, established by Frezer Adane and Yonas Seifu.

“After thorough research we decided to get into the business with, what we believe, is better and safer equipment with precision features and competitive prices,” said Frezer, general manager of the Company.

The lifts, which are imported from Turkey, are of high quality and ease the safety concerns associated with the use of industrial lifts, said Frezer.

“When Gong was established in 2006, there was only one other company, but now there are many,” explained Atsede Atrif, sales representative at Gong Construction Plc, a company that assembles and manufactures spare parts for lifts.

Gong Construction is a company owned by a Chinese man, and was one of the first to start assembling and manufacturing lifts. Although reluctant to relay the number of lifts they have sold, Atsede said that despite the emergence of competitors they have not reduced prices or seen a decline in demand. This is indicative of the amount of construction going on in the city, she added.

Unlike lifts, cranes are mainly imported from China and Germany, according to data from Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority’s (ERCA). The data shows that between 2005 and 2014 a few hundred tower cranes were imported, with figures significantly increasing over the last five years.

Rama Construction Plc, established in 1995, uses five cranes across current projects, including; the Bole and Gulele District headquarters, the Heineken Brewery factory at Kality and the new UN-ECA New Office Project which was inaugurated two weeks ago.

Among the earliest to use lifts was Italian company Varnero, which constructed the Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) and Radisson Blu Hotel buildings.

“The laws do not force construction companies to have a crane or lift,” says to Aklilu Dendena, head of construction follow-up and inspection at the building occupancy permit documentation of Addis Abeba City Administration (AACA).

Labourers can carry equipment to the upper floors and buildings. Buildings should have steps inside to facilitate workers moving inputs to upper floors, says Aklilu. But the office requires contractors using lifts and cranes to hire safety people to ensure the crane and lift areas are protected. This averts damage and accidents and prevents lifts from being used to transport people. Construction areas where these machines are being used should also be fenced off, said Aklilu.


This content is published on, Fortune Sunday 09 November 2014 Page:  12









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