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Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Restarts Railway Bridge Construction in Philippines by Remote Control  [2020年9月7日]

While many construction sites overseas are forced to shut down due to the spread of COVID-19, Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Co. is remotely managing the railway construction in the Philippines from Japan. In April, the work resumed after a month-long close down with all Japanese engineers yet to return from Japan. The engineers of the company work from home, overseeing the work through a CCTV camera and giving instructions to local workers at the site.

"North-South Commuter Railway Project CP20" that the company is undertaking will build a 14 km viaduct line and three station buildings between Malolos and Manila cities. While Japanese engineers are not present, preparatory works such as assembling precast concrete segments and constructing cast-in-place piles are underway.

On March 16th, the government of the Philippines declared a city lock down across Luzon to prevent the spread of the infection. All the construction sites were suspended and Japanese employees were required to leave the country. A month later, though the contractor was set to restart the construction, Japanese employees was not able to return to the work site. Under difficult circumstances, the company decided to restart the temporary construction and preparatory work by remote monitoring.

Japanese employees communicate with the site through web conferences, etc., and draft construction plans, create construction drawings and oversee local workers. Construction work such as erection of a segment that requires physical witnessing has not been started.

According to an executive of Sumitomo Mitsui, the reason why they were able to resume construction remotely was not only because of the advantages of information technologies, but also of the local engineers with experience in bridge construction. Some of the Filipino employees have worked for the bridge construction in Vietnam. Since Japanese engineers are not likely to return soon at the moment, it seems that the situation will continue with the preparation work under the leadership of Filipino employees. (2020/08/21)