Is the Kenyan Construction Industry aligned to the Vision 2030?
Vision 2030 and the Construction Industry
Kenya’s Vision 2030 is a long-term development plan that aims to transform the country into a newly industrializing middle-income economy providing high-quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030. To achieve this, the government rolled out flagship projects. The construction industry will be a key contributor to the economic growth of the country and has attracted a lot of attention from both the locals and foreign investors. Due to this, several issues have arisen in the management of the industry’s quality through regulations and legislation.
The construction industry has hit media headlines several times due to the collapse of buildings in the recent past. This has attracted a lot of attention from the government and investors on how quality assurance and quality control is done in the industry.
The following were cited as the causes of building collapse:
- There are a lot of rogue people in the industry masquerading as building and civil engineering contractors. These individuals happen not be registered and have not met the statutory requirements of operating ass contractors.
- Some of the buildings are put up without proper design structures. There is a loophole in the enforcement of the approval regulations.
- Use of counterfeit construction materials that ends up compromising the quality of the workmanship and the structural integrity of the building elements.
- Poor workmanship caused by inadequacy of construction skills among the workforce that is employed by the construction industry.
Current Construction Industry’s Regulation
The Kenyan government established the National Construction Authority (NCA) under the National Construction Authority Act 2011, giving it the mandate to oversee the construction industry and coordinate its development. Section 5 of the National Construction Authority Act 2011 gives the authority a mandate of promoting and improving the industry through training, capacity building, quality assurance and dissemination of research information.
Challenges faced by the NCA in Regulating Construction Sites
The construction industry is very resistant to change: The industry has been largely dominated by rogue contractors, less informed developers, unskilled labour force, and several informal businesses within the entire supply chain of construction.
Attempts to professionalise the industry have met a lot of resistance form rogue contractors and cartels that have established deep roots in the construction industry.
Regulatory bodies, including the NCA, have not been provided with enough quality assurance officers to help in enforcing the standards and requirements of building in every construction site countrywide.
- The National Construction Research Agenda (NCRA) has been established under the NCA after various consultations with other government agencies and is in the forefront of spearheading research in the construction industry with the aim of coming up with practical solutions to some of the problems facing the construction industry.
- Contractors are being trained in various seminars (continuous development seminars) organised by the NCA in all counties. These seminars are put as a mandatory requirement to obtain a certificate for carrying the construction business from the NCA.
- The National Construction Authority has developed project registration criteria which require among other things proof of approval of the project by other agencies such as the county governments’ development control units and the National Environmental Management Agency (NEMA).
- The construction industry has witnessed a lot of influx of foreign contractors. The largest share of the Vision 2030 mega projects/flagship projects is taken by those foreign contractors who are at an advantage due to their superior resource endowment compared to their local competitors.
- Professional bodies in the construction industry are getting into the forefront of educating the public and creating an awareness of the requirements of putting up buildings and the role played by the construction professionals. An example is the AAK Public Awareness dubbed “Je Una Mjengo”, where professionals in the built environment dedicate time to respond to questions from the public relating to building requirements, regulations and professionalism in the construction industry.
- The government through the National Construction Authority, with input from the Architectural Association of Kenya and the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya, has formulated a draft Construction Industry Policy with the aim of addressing certain challenges to better advance the construction industry. The following are some of the challenges to be addressed by the policy:
- Low completion rates of construction projects.
- Lengthy procurement procedures.
- Low access to affordable project financing.
- Inadequate harmony in policies, laws and regulations.
- Low technological uptake and exposure levels of stakeholders to international best practices.
- Use of inappropriate construction material.
- Poor quality of works as a result of poor workmanship and use of substandard materials.
- Unethical conduct and unfair business practices.
- Inadequate skilled and competent workforce.
- Lack of a standard monitoring and evaluation framework
- Inadequate capacity for enforcement of standards and regulations.
- Poor practices in safety and health management.
Way Forward (Towards Vision 2030)
To achieve the plans set out in the vision 2030, the construction industry needs a better policy framework that will enable better delivery of construction projects and generate value for developers, while safety and health of construction workers being put as a primary concern. The draft construction industry policy is a good step that the industry is taking to address the challenges that have been very persistent in the previous years.
Besides that, the following should be done:
- Consolidate and harmonize the existing legislation that regulates the operations at construction sites to one law that clearly spells the requirements without duplication.
- To ensure that the local contractors compete better with the increasing number foreign contractors, the government should endeavour to build capacities and skills for local contractors, and create a common fund to provide loans to local contractors for financing the undertaking of mega projects.
- Kenya Bureau of Standards should hasten the process of partnering with the construction industry regulatory bodies to start the standardization of building materials.
- The government should conduct a survey of all the tertiary institutions that train both professionals and artisans for the construction industry to gauge whether their curriculum meets the practical requirements of the industry. Once gaps have been established, formulate policy recommendations to close those gaps in education, training and actual practice.
Republic of Kenya. (2018) Construction Industry Policy (Draft)
Republic of Kenya. (2007) Kenya Vision 2030. Government Printing Press
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