1 January 2013

Tanzania: Local Contractors Demand State Support

LOCAL contractors have asked for priority in allocation of project, saying the move will help in development of domestic internal capacity, skills and capital retention.

"Let us borrow a leaf from China where local contractors are always given priority in implementing the national projects," a local architect, Mr Burton Nsemwa said recently. Mr Nsemwa made the comments at a ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the 3.5bn/- building for the Public Servants Housing project at Ada Estate in Dar es Salaam.

Mr Nsemwa of M/S Construction Company, said giving priority to local contractors would boost earnings among the local people, but favouring foreigners meant the opposite. Speaking when officiating at the occasion, the Vice-President, Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal, said the national demand for residential houses currently stood at about 3 million units.

He said to satisfy such a huge demand the government cannot work alone, but needed to approach the programme through Public Private Partnership (PPP) strategy. The demand for houses in Tanzania is estimated to be growing at an average of 200,000 units per annum and thus requiring huge investments to construct residential houses for the population.

"The government has taken various measures aimed at reducing the shortage by enacting and amending various legislations to create a conducive environment for the private sector to participate," Dr Bilal said. He said recent efforts by the government include the enactment of the Mortgage Finance Act and establishment of the Tanzania Mortgage Refinancing Company (TMRC) to provide loans for construction of houses.

The government has also amended the Rent Restriction Act of 1984 and enacted the Unit Title Act in a bid to attract private investors in the sector, according to Dr Bilal. The government has about 450,000 employees and each year it employs an average of 35,000 new workers and thus the need to have adequate housing units for them, the VP said.

Speaking at the same occasion, the Minister for Works, Dr John Magufuli, warned local contractors against shoddy work. "The government is committed to offer contracts to local contractors provided they perform their work well," the minister warned.

Mr Nsemwa promised the government that his firm would meet the deadline by handing over the building at the right time and that his company has already executed a good number of projects. "We are committed to ensure that all the projects are executed and delivered according to schedule to maintain the trust between the company and the government," says Mr Nsemwa.

Upon completion which is expected in February, next year, the seven-storey building will accommodate 16 families. Each apartment consists of a self contained 3-bedroomed unit. He named some of other projects executed by his company as the construction of health centres in Igunga District in Tabora Region, High Court building in Shinyanga and a hotel owned by Tanzania Government Workers Union (TALGWU) in Temeke District in Dar es Salaam.

He further said his company was implementing Mbutu Bridge construction project with other contractors, saying the bridge to connect Igunga and Mbutu areas in Tabora Region is expected to be inaugurated by President Jakaya Kikwete next year. But he said local contractors hoped to start getting many projects after the promise by the Minister of Works, Dr John Magufuli.

However, Mr Nsemwa, said the major challenge which hinders the construction companies' goals was the delay of payment to them after completion of the projects, saying for the industry to be successful the payment should be done in time. The Engineers Registration Board (ERB) Registrar, Eng. Steven Mlote, recently challenged local engineers to seize opportunities available in other East African Community (EAC) partner states.

Eng. Mlote said that the country has 5,081 professional engineers and 6,183 graduate engineers all totalling 11,264 engineers. He pointed out that Uganda has 400 engineers while Kenya has 1,600 professional engineers and 5,800 graduate engineers, making a total of 7,400 engineers. "From these figures, it is obvious that the engineers we have in EAC are not enough to serve the 130 million people in the region, hence the need for co-operation," he said.

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