Ugandan engineering and construction contractors have been challenged over lack of capacity and skills to take up big projects and advised on what they need to do to win big contracts from government.
Most of the big projects in the country especially those that fall under Ministry of Works and Transport, Ministry of Energy among others are mostly executed by foreign, especially Chinese companies.
Speaking at the end of the year stakeholder engagement forum of the Uganda National Association Of Building And Civil Engineering Contractors (UNABCEC) in Kampala on Wednesday, Mrs Grace Munanura, a World Bank senior procurement specialist advised low resourced local companies to form consortiums and convince government to give them contracts.
“On the issue of capacity, many of our contractors are unable. Those of you who have substantial funds which are lying idle, you can come together and go convince government. I see some foreign contractors come here and convince government to give them jobs. They say give us the job, we shall finance it ourselves,” he said.
“So is it possible; You can collect among yourselves into a huge consortium that can do pre financing of projects.”
She also noted that there are gaps at contract management stage and added that there is need for local contractors to be trained in business skills.
The executive director, National Planning Authority (NPA), Dr Joseph Muvawala said there is a challenge of skills as a result of turning technical institutes into Universities such as Kyambogo University.
“We have closed Kyambogo and turned it into a university. For God’s sake, what are we doing in this country. The ratio of engineers to artisans has reversed. Now we have more engineers than artisans. Who will you supervise?” he asked
He noted that before Kyambogo was turned into a university, it produced high quality engineers and there was no collapse of buildings.
“When we were growing up, there was no falling of buildings but the moment you closed Kyambogo, you now have engineers who stand and direct.”
Muvawala further called for scrutinizing of curriculum formation of the institutions to produce high quality engineers. This he said is because technical things change every day.
Mr Francis Karuhanga, the UNABCEC president said that there is need to classify contractors into classes.
“A contractor who has never done a job of 100 million in this country wins a project of 10 billion. That is a clear sign of corruption. So we need classification of these contractors entrenched and people should move from class to class,” he said
Karuhanga also expressed need for the establishment of a specialised training centre to train operators, mechanics and tractor drivers. He said this is because a contractor may purchase a tractor and fails to get an operator.
He also demanded that all fresh engineering graduates should first work with a construction company for at least one year to get expertise.