Local contractors under their organisation, Uganda National Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors (UNABCEC) have appealed to government to offer them more support in terms of skills development, access to finance and securing road construction contracts.
The engineers want Government to establish a specialist training of infrastructure engineers, technicians, plant operators, consultants and contractors to bridge the gap of lack of enough skilled local personals to participate in big construction projects and win bids for big road contracts
These local engineers, who say they are out-competed by their foreign counterparts in contract bidding due to limited access to finances, want government to establish a construction guarantee trust fund of at least 92billion every year for the next five years to facilitate growth of small and medium sized companies.
Francis Karuhanga, the president of UNABCEC noted that the current high interest rates and stringent rules put in place by commercial banks before issuing loans to SMEs in the construction sector cannot allow them to compete favourably with the foreign ones hence the need for government to put up different funds in the Uganda Development Bank that can be accessed at low interest rates and favourable terms
While addressing the minister of works and transport, Monica Azuba Ntege at the UNABCEC end of year dinner that took place Thursday evening at Silver Spring in Bugolobi, Karuhanga noted that the current efforts by government to promote local content in the construction companies were being hindered by several challenges.
“Our local companies need more support. This can be done through Classification and registration of contractors. This will ensure transparency and fair competition in procurement of works, goods and services in the construction sector. Currently there is no specific registration of construction constructors in Uganda” he said.
The outgoing president who is also incoming Chairman for Board of Directors added that government needs to emphasize the National Reservation scheme in the construction sector that deliberately cater for Domestic owned companies to favourably tender for and implement mega Infrastructure projects especially for government funded projects.
“Roads and bridge works of up to Shs 30billion should be reserved domestic companies while those up to shs50billion should be reserved for both domestic and resident companies. Supply of goods and services for shs 5billion should be for only local companies. For projects that are above national reserve, the procurement laws should require foreign companies to partner with local one to up to 30% this is the only way we will be able to grow this sector and truly promote local companies” he said.
Minister Azuba in her remarks and response to the requests said government was committed to promoting local contractors and will continue looking for ways through which these can be promoted both financially and skills wise
“Through the New Public procurement act, we have ensured that 30% of civil contracts go to locals. Although you don’t seem to have seen a big impact from this law, it’s a beginning and will soon yield results” she said.
She further noted that she will continue probing for the UNABCEC paper that they had presented to her so that it gets the attention of the president and Parliament and their issues be addressed.
The Dinner followed a full day of the 2018 general meeting where new board members and administration was affirmed.