Roads & Terminals
French road builder Colas has halted all road construction work in France to comply with the government's lock-down measures to battle the coronavirus pandemic, which has stopped nearly all its bitumen purchases.
The move is one of a series of measures being taken across Europe to curtail road paving work to help contain the coronavirus, just as the European paving and bitumen consuming season gets under way after the winter slowdown.
The stoppage began earlier this week in response to the French government's lock-down order issued on 17 March, which restricted all non-essential travel and movements for 15 days. French interior minister Christophe Castaner said yesterday that this may be extended if necessary.
Colas, one of the world's biggest construction companies, ordered its workforce to go home early this week, also for 15 days, and will extend that in line with any French government extension.
The firm stopped taking bitumen deliveries, which it mainly moves by truck into its terminals and depots, although it may still take delivery of small amounts to place into storage. The status of cargo movements into its Blaye bitumen import terminal on the French Atlantic coast is unclear.
Colas' move does not yet affect other European countries where it operates. But elsewhere in Europe, Austrian construction firm Strabag suspended its road highway construction activities since 18 March, affecting around 1,000 sites around the country as part of a wider countrywide halt to most paving work.
Road paving work in Slovenia has also been heavily affected by coronavirus-related restrictions, and contractors in Romania — one of Europe's main bitumen importing markets — are likely to halt or suspend project work, with some concerns that the government will not approve invoices.
By Keyvan Hedvat