6 December 2012

Tanzania: TBA Roles Stifle Construction Industry Growth

THE Tanzania Building Agency's roles as regulator and consultant are stifling growth of the architects and quantity surveyors' sector which is an important part of the bulging construction industry.

Speaking during Architects and Quantity Surveyors Registration Board (AQSRB)'s consultative meeting with chief owners, executive officers and managers, Dr Moses Mkony of Mekon Arch Consult Limited of Dar es Salaam argued that there is an element of conflict of interest in the roles that TBA plays.

'You can't evaluate projects and then approve them and later also play the role of project manager," argued Dr Mkony who said it is high time TBA's role becomes clear as either regulator, government property manager or consultant. Dr Mkony also accused some TBA workers of being biased, questioning their knowledge and experience especially when it comes to endorsing projects submitted by architects, doing government project.

He, however, railed bogus architects who don't consider where to advise clients to use glass work, saying many are taken by the fashion of glass houses currently sweeping across the country. Architect Alfonsina Mcha took issues with TBA's double roles saying the agency has assumed extraordinary powers with which it is stifling competition and growth.

"I think TBA is above the law, TBA is untouchable because it's a government agency," said an emotional Ms Mcha who pointed out that it's high time that the agency be governed by necessary laws. She noted that the 1922 law which gave the agency sweeping powers to play regulatory and consultancy roles was abolished in 1990s but unfortunately it's only on paper and not on the ground.

"This agency don't seem to understand issues of town master plans and often approves construction of five storey buildings where town plans allow 20 floors and 10 storey blocks where town plans restricts such areas only to three floors," Mcha argued.

Responding to the barrage of criticism against TBA, Chief Executive Officer, Elius Mwakalinga said the law which established the agency gives it three mandates as consultant, property manager and project manager for all government sponsored ventures.

"We are regulated by CRB, ERB and AQSRB and so far we have not been penalized or warned for wrongdoing," Mr Mwakalinga argued while offering an olive branch to his stakeholders to join him in improving the sub-sector. He argued that TBA is better suited to perform all the three roles because of the nature and sensitivity of some of the government projects but conceded that when it comes to stifling competition, when it takes part in consultancy work, then it is indeed a problem.

"I think all these problems will be addressed once we have a building law, which we don't have currently," Mwakalinga pointed out. The AQSRB Registrar, Jehad Jehad and Board Chairman, Dr Ambwene Mwakyusa urged stakeholders to improve their performance as their peers from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will soon enter the local market as part of the East African Community (EAC) Protocol.

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