The New Times (Kigali)

2 September 2014

Rwanda: Construction Sector Policy Delay Irks Engineers, Ministry Calls for Calm

Last year, government through Ministry of infrastructure promised to put in place a national construction policy as one of the measures aimed at streamlining the construction sector.

The idea was to restructure operations in the industry that had been characterised by poor co-ordination, lack of expertise, obsolete technological and unprofessionalism, as well as develop an effective institutional framework for sustainable development. The proposed policy looked to make the construction industry more vibrant and sustainable; promote safety, security and protect the environment.

However, a year after this proposal, engineers worried that the policy be implemented soon.

This financial year, the government is putting emphasis on infrastructure development to boost trade.

However, there is growing concern from civil engineers on how the government will achieve this objective without a clear national policy on construction sector.

They argue that some businesses are taking advantage of the situation to employ unqualified engineers, which compromises quality and safety guidelines.

Eng Patrick Kaningwa, a consultant, argued that there is no way a country can build sustainable and secure infrastructure without a clear and well-co-ordinated policy.

While government has put in place national policies and laws governing urbanisation, human settlement, affordable housing and human habitation and a law governing planning and building in Rwanda, there is no policy on national construction.

This is what is causing uneasiness among sector players, especially engineers, who say the delay to have a policy is exposing the industry to risks that could be costly to the economy.

Eng Fred Rwihunda, the president of the Institute of Engineers Rwanda, said the situation calls for collective efforts to address; and also solve the challenges crippling the construction sector.

Rwihunda said the country needs the policy to address issues of capacity, skills and investments that have affected its growth.

Rwihunda noted that though the council is currently trying to weed out quack engineers more intervention from government authorities is required.

Eng Benjamin Kyambadde, founder and managing director at Green Effect Engineering, said the existing construction policy does not address issues of bureaucracy 'from a procurement perspective'. "It's important that we have a law that will promote transparency in the procurement process; a law that seeks to manage corruption," he said.

According to Kyambadde, Rwanda could fail to deliver sustainable infrastructure if some of the old laws are not reviewed.

Delay explained:

Peterson Mutabazi, the principle senior engineer at Ministry of Infrastructure, attributed the delay to ongoing consultations.

"The policy is ready, but as you are aware it cuts across all the sectors and various ministries. So we are trying to harmonise some of the issues it is seeking to address, which has delayed the process," Mutabazi told Business Times. "We are, however, doing our best to have the policy in place as soon as possible."

Despite the delay, Mutabazi is confident the policy will support the growth and development of the sector.

James Musoni, the Minister for Infrastructure, said the task of delivering to public a policy that will help support the country's economic development through sustainable infrastructure remains a priority.

"Engineering is important for the creation of infrastructure to alleviate poverty and accelerate industrial development. We are also aware that quality infrastructure is a key ingredient to achieve sustainable development," Musoni noted.

Rwanda's construction industry has come of edge and contributed 27.2 per cent to the national growth domestic product during first half of the year, according to figures from central bank.

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