By Simon J. Mone
Construction industry plays a major role in the development of any nation.
In Uganda just like any developing country, it is one of the primary growth sectors significantly contributing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with a growth performance of 5.8 % by 2008 according to the current National Development Plan 2012/2011-2014/2015. It is likely that in the next few years, the industry will have made more growth than expected.
This should give us more reasons to position ourselves to be able to manage and harness the opportunities arising out of this growth. In so doing, we shall achieve the desired objective of having well planned and managed public buildings and infrastructure in the country. Commendable contributions that have already been made towards this objective cannot be discounted. Due credit should be given to all the various institutions that have for a long time held responsibility to ensure that we realise a well planned building infrastructure in Uganda.
Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ministry of Works and Transport, National Planning Authority, Kampala Capital City Authority, District Local Governments and all the other urban authorities not pointed out in this write-up have always contributed to ensuring that there is orderly development of public buildings in one way or another.
They must be credited for their contribution. However, as it is often said that “the biggest room in the World is the room for improvement”, in a bid to achieve sustainability, and to be able to plan for our continuously expanding construction industry, a Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is an opportunity for us to provide the catalyst for this improvement. The BCA is needed to be responsible for a safe, high quality, cost effective and sustainable building and construction industry for Uganda.
A robust building control system that proactively reviews regulations regularly to ensure that they evolve with the dynamic and changing needs of potential building occupants is very important. Among the tasks that the BCA must be expected to perform includes but are not limited to the following: The first responsibility is to champion a safe built environment where from time to time, it conducts studies that result in making improvements to regulatory requirements for construction safety around the country and inform the country of these requirements.
Typical examples of such improvements would be in approving building and structural plans, carrying out regular site inspections and publicising those sites whose safety needs are found wanting, auditing public and private buildings to check if construction safety requirements have been adhered to, issuance of orders to owners of dangerous buildings to have them demolished to avoid buildings coming down on occupants, issuance of occupation permits and certificates of successful completion to building owners so that the rest of the public is motivated to follow suit, and commissioning buildings that have been constructed to meet safety standards.
Secondly, the BCA has got to deliver a quality built environment through upholding the standards within the industry by auditing, training and licensing all building practitioners present in the country, to enhance builders’ capability and growth towards sustaining quality workmanship.
Thirdly, the BCA should formulate a sustainable construction master plan to educate and advance the construction industry towards a more sustainable construction practice through continuous research and development of cost effective methods of achieving better quality buildings in the country.
Simon J. Mone is a Civil Engineer, P. O. Box 36045, Kampala, Uganda, Mobile: 0772 676174, E-mail: email@example.com