A new construction policy that aims at addressing the problems that have been dogging the construction industry is in the offing.
Prof. Silas Lwakabamba the Minister for Infrastructure, said the policy that is awaiting Cabinet approval will streamline operations in the industry that has been affected by poor co-ordination, lack of expertise, obsolete technological and unprofessionalism.
“The new policy will enhance service delivery, stability, performance and the growth of local businesses and professionalism in the construction industry,” he noted.
Lwakabamba attributed the current poor state of the industry to the liberation war, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the limited number of skilled people and lack of laws to regulate the sector.
He added that the situation was aggravated by other institutional problems and weaknesses, such as the absence of a clear vision for the sector.
“Contractors and consultants in the construction industry lack capital, management skills and skilled manpower that would enable them to realise their potential.
“Although huge achievements have been made in real estate development, the past initiatives to improve local firms were not sufficiently backed by government policies and strategies to sustain growth of the construction industry,” he said.
He noted that that is why the industry is heavily–relying on the services of foreign firms, “even for repair and maintenance work that could otherwise be performed by local firms”.
“The policy, therefore, seeks to promote initiatives, where local contractors and consultants will be trained to boost the capabilities and potential to fill the prevailing capacity and skills,” he explained.
Peterson Mutabazi, the principle senior engineer at Ministry of Infrastructure, said the main thrust of the policy is to develop an effective institutional framework for sustainable infrastructure development and maintenance in the construction and civil engineering sectors for buildings and transportation.
Mutabazi further noted that the policy will support the growth and development of the sector where both the public and private sectors participate consciously and actively get involved in, not only construction projects, but also in the decision-making process that impacts the industry.
“We want to harmonise the roles played by the private sector in the construction business, strengthen local capacity for effective participation, while promoting use of appropriate technology,” Mutabazi said.
Lwakabamba said the policy will also look at ways of reviewing the procurement law, especially sections that relate to the construction industry tenders.
“It is regrettable to note that the procurement laws restricts the involvement of local contractors, especially from creating joint ventures with strong foreign firms from which they would gain experience,” he said.
He noted that it is important to draft policies, strategies and an action plan aimed at developing the construction industry and empowering the private sector to effectively perform its role.
“It is the Government’s goal that all services in the construction industry are provided by the private sector by June 2020,” Lwakabamba noted.
The policy addresses various issues in the construction sector, such as safety and security, extortion, quality, environment factors, registration of professionals and enterprises, refinement of procurement rules and the development of skill levels in the construction industry.