Guest Writers

The past 20 years have seen a boom in the construction industry. The liberalised economy has increased individual and institutions’ propensity to improve the quality of life and working conditions via improved dwellings and offices.

The liberalised economy has also attracted many diverse investors and industries into the country. This growth faces serious challenges, hence the need for all players to wake up and reshape the construction industry in the region. The lack of will to enforce the law calls for reviewing of the existing laws to address this problem.

There is inadequate stock and building structures, calling for both government and the private sector to work closely to invest in the construction industry and to ensure good designs of buildings, manufactured products free of adulteration and close supervision by qualified personnel.
Inadequate resources (equipment, personnel, financial) and the high interest rates on loans have led to low capital available to developers.

The low per capita income makes it difficult for an average person to afford the high planning/building standards dictated by good building practice. Therefore, there is need to  attract investors in various fields, including construction, so as to create employment for the population and investment in research and development in innovative technologies to avail affordable standards to the population.

The inadequate physical infrastructure has acted as a disincentive to investors and the population explosion has led to reduced housing and buildings, and the emergence of unplanned settlements and slums. This calls for increased housing and buildings, roads and health facilities, among others.

Construction related accidents and fire outbreaks in different places have claimed many lives and loss of property, injury to workers at construction sites or occupants of buildings. The causes of construction related accidents countrywide have included inadequate design, use of unqualified personnel and sub-standard materials, poor construction methods and poor workmanship.

Failure by the builders to interpret available engineering/architectural drawings and technical specifications has also contributed to the problem. Structural failures, electrical fires and arson have at times been blamed for these accidents. The neglect and lack of regular and effective maintenance of the building structures and installation has aggravated the problem.

Local governments and councils have not been able to fully enforce the existing building laws and regulations due to lack of capacity. The same problem is faced by the Uganda Police Fire Brigade, hindering it from acting promptly in searching and rescuing victims. As a result, accidents have occurred, leading to loss of lives, fatal injuries, and property worth billions being lost.

This calls for thorough investigations of the accidents, sensitisation of the public and strengthening of the existing laws where deterrent sentences will be passed. Government is implementing a number of strategic actions aimed at addressing the constraints being faced by the construction industry and these include the National Construction Industry (NCI) policy, the Building Control Bill 2009 (BCB), National Transport Master Plan (NTMP), and amendment of the Engineers Registration Act  of 1969.

The NCI policy aims to improve coordination, regulation and development of the construction industry. An effective institutional framework is to be put in place to address the current weaknesses in the industry. The BCB will address the shortfalls in the existing laws and provide for use of appropriate building standards and establishment of a National Building Review Board (NBRB) and building committees to oversee and regulate building works. The NTMP constitutes an essential element for overall planning of economic and social development of Uganda.

If all key stakeholders play their roles to the letter, the construction industry will be vibrant and capable of supporting the country’s development plans.

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