Govt develops new plan to improve construction

July 10, 2008

, NAIROBI, July 10 – The Government plans to establish a National Construction Authority as one of its endeavours to facilitate the growth of small and medium enterprises in the construction industry, Public Works Minister Chris Obure said Thursday.

Obure, who reiterated the government’s commitment to the growth of the industry, said his ministry would be presenting proposals for establishing the Authority before the Cabinet by the end of July.

Speaking at a workshop for the construction sector on the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, Obure committed that the government would be availing more incentives to contractors, including training and credit facilities.

Obure said: “We are very concerned about the fact that they have no access to credit and the fact that the conditions of the contracts they enter have a lot of bottlenecks that make it impossible to raise capital. We are envisaging a situation where we will have to fully rely on our own contractors in the future.”

A similar body, the National Construction Corporation, went down in 1993 owing to corruption and mismanagement. Since then small contractors have failed to secure massive projects for lack of funds and other resources.

The authority will pool together financial and technical resources for the contractors to access.

National coordinator of the Kenya Federation of Master Builders, Moses Mwihia, was at pains to explain to the Minister the tedious and limiting process of securing a tender for the small builders.

Already the Public Procurement Oversight Authority boss Robert Hunja said that they are consulting with insurance industry players to help contractors access bid bonds.

Also in the pipeline is a Construction Regulatory Board to streamline the performance of the industry, and this would be placed before the Cabinet by the end of the year.

The Board will among other things register contractors and set performance standards for the industry.  The Board’s proposal comes against a backdrop of increased public uproar over the poor performance of contractors, which has led to the collapse of an increasing number of buildings in the country, some of which have turned tragic.

In his presentation, the Minister stated that the Public Procurement Oversight Authority would be critical in streamlining the development of infrastructure in the country ahead of the Government’s economic development blue print, Vision 2030.

Proper procurement, he said, would save the country up to Sh12 billion annually.

“A reformed public procurement system will be a vehicle for delivering enhanced economic growth, optimised resource application, commitment control and timely delivery of services,” he added.

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