Saturday, January 23, 2021

Government tightens law on construction industry players

Government vowed to come up with a water tight Act to parliament, aimed at dealing with rogue players in the construction industry as it attempts to curb the growing corrupt practices within the sector.

The envisaged Act, prompted by perceptions of corruption in the construction industry ÔÇô that has been there since the BHC scandal in the early 1990s — is expected to be targeted against the Quantity Surveyors.
Carter Morupisi, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, on Friday told a meeting attended by renowned local and regional quantity surveyors that the government intends to forestall the growing perception of misconduct in the construction industry, which have the potential of blowing up the national economy down to its knees.

“As most of you may be aware, the
quantity surveyors Act is presently in the process of being prepared for presentation to parliament alongside other Acts of parliament pertaining to other professional disciplines, such as engineering, architecture and real estate, which have either been passed or are in the pipeline,” Morupisi indicated.

“I believe there is consensus that, through legislation pertaining to professions in the construction industry, control can be exercised over who practices as, for example, a quantity surveyor, as well as how that person conducts themselves. It is the hope of government that regulating your part of the industry in this manner will turn the tide, particularly in the fight against corruption,” he added.

Construction industry is one of the biggest government clients but has over the years been a source of disappointment as it failed to deliver some of the projects on time or to deliver them at all.

The move is part of the government enclave ratcheted plan that was first driven by the portfolio minister Jonny Swartz at stakeholders’ consultative meetings.

Some of the concerns put forward include late, cost overruns and poor workmanship which Morupisi referred to as problems negatively affecting government ability to deliver to the people of this country the facilities and infrastructure developments for which it is charged”.

That notwithstanding, the current economic downturn escalates to the extreme the already precarious situation that now dictates for more stricter and tighter expenditure measures.

“The current economic turmoil means that as government we have to plan developments and manage our expenditure even more strictly and tightly than ever before. We therefore cannot afford to have the cost of projects increasing during construction phase neither can we afford to have poor quality buildings because of their high maintenance cost.”

The construction industry, Morupisi alleged, is presently faced with a wide range of challenges, chief amongst them corruption that gets regularly mentioned in various forums.
“It manifests itself through the improper award of contracts for construction projects, made possible by deliberate undermining of tendering and tender evaluation procedures. Monitoring of contractors and enforcement of set quality standards have also, in some instances, been compromised by conflict of interest on the part of those persons charged with those responsibilities.”

Capacity building in the industry, Morupisi added, is slow because of poor skills in various parts of the industry.
“In this industry, unwillingness on the part of companies to employ young citizen graduates and train them has been a cause for concern. Some, if not most companies, favour recruitment of experienced staff, in many instances from outside the country,” he insisted.

“Government as the biggest client of construction industry is always looking for ways to empower the citizens of this country. We will continue to pursue and refine our policies that affect the construction industry in such a way that builds up our citizen’s capacity to take a lead in this industry,” Morupisi concluded.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper