The construction industry has been toping the headlines in the country this time in a bad lime light with the latest being the collapse of a building in Kisumu. Local constructors have complained of the government awarding tenders to foreign firms instead of local ones. Kenya is however to blame itself for the overtake of foreign firms in the construction industry in the country.

The country has in the past five years been under continuous infrastructure development.However, foregn firms are on top of the business while local contractors come in as secondary in the projects. Who is to blame for this?

“The industry from independence has experienced substantial growth.  For example in the period 1998 – 2008 whereas the GDP grew by 135.1% the construction output grew by 406.1%. Despite such growth, major construction works in Kenya have been undertaken by foreign firms due to lack of adequate local capacity in the industry”, says a statement on Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) website.

Local contractors have been associated with shoddy works that has left many lives dead in the country and resources destroyed. The Government has also been trying to clear a mountain of pending bills created by contractors who never finished projects for a variety of reasons, including shoddy workmanship.

“Yet, despite all these scenarios, local contractors have been complaining of being denied construction bids. But to win big construction tenders contracts, one has got to prove his competency by completing the work in agreed time and should be of good quality”, says a statement on MoPW’s website.

In a bid to cud this and bring sanity and discipline in the industry, the government has called upon all contractors to register afresh. A body has been established under the National Construction Authority (NCA) to coordinate and oversee the development of the construction industry. The body will vet and evaluate the capability of contractors before issuing them with new operation licences.

Research shows that only about a quarter of Kenya’s 10,000 contractors may be genuine, which comes to 2,500 qualified engineers. The authority has organised countrywide training seminars compulsory for contractors where fresh registration will be done. The seminars are set to begin in 31st January and will be carried out in major towns.

Unqualified contractors took advantage of the current fragmented registration process where each government agency keep their own register. This gave room for on-performing contractors and those barred in one ministry or institution to migrate and tender for projects on account of multiple registrations. This also allowed contractors with little or no capability to undertake construction works resulting to incomplete of shoddy work.

“Unless the above challenges are mitigated the construction industry will be incapable of efficiently executing the large scale projects anticipated within the Vision 2030 and other projects within the region economic blocs”, says a statement on MoPW website.
Read also: NCA to improve standards and enforce ethics in the construction industry
             : Proposed law to increase cost of professional services in building


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