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Lockdown Affects Supervision of Buildings Under Construction

In the statement, Kabatsi explained actions taken to enforce adherence to building standards and regulations on the numerous accidents occurring at building sites. It followed a directive by the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in the aftermath of an accident in which a building collapsed in Kansanga and claimed g 12 lives.
The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga chairing the afternoon plenary session. Photo by Parliament of Uganda.

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The Ministry of Works is unable to effectively enforce standards and quality of ongoing constructions due to the lockdown occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19.  This is according to the State Minister for works Joy Kabatsi in a statement presented to Parliament on Thursday.

In the statement, Kabatsi explained actions taken to enforce adherence to building standards and regulations on the numerous accidents occurring at building sites. It followed a directive by the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga in the aftermath of an accident in which a building collapsed in Kansanga and claimed g 12 lives.

Kabatsi says that 'criminals' are taking advantage of the lockdown to erect substandard buildings that have in some cases collapsed and claimed lives. She, however, says that there is very little that the government can do about it because those in charge are still under lock.  

The Building Control Act of 2013 establishes the National Building Review Board to monitor infrastructure development and ensure that standard construction is adhered to among others.  

But the Minister says that due to the current lockdown, the technical staff on the board which is supervised by her Ministry cannot do their work and that criminals have exploited the situation to do shoddy works leading to the collapse of buildings.  

She asked parliament to bear with the Ministry saying that they are to deal with the challenge after the lockdown.

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In response to the Minister’s statement, Nakifuma County MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko said that the board charged with the responsibility of supervising construction work has not been facilitated to carry out its operations.    

“I am aware that since the board was operationalized last year, the only funding it has received from the budget has been to cover their salaries and in the coming financial year the Government allocated the board only Shillings 6 billion to operationalize its work so the minister has to come clean and say the truth,” said Ssekitoleko.  

Kasambya County MP, Gaffa Mbwa Tekamwa wondered why the Minister whose Ministry is giving out stickers for transport during the current lockdown failed to ensure that her essential workers are catered for. “How can she turn around to say her technical people can’t do their work because of the lockdown yet the sector they supervise has continued to operate fully,” Mbwa Tekamwa questioned.  

Abraham Byandala, the Katikamu North MP told parliament that there is laxity in ensuring the quality of construction. Byandala said that each division in Kampala Capital City has only one infrastructure inspector who cannot carry out thorough supervision. Kampala has five divisions including Nakawa, Kawempe, Central, Rubaga and Makindye.  

Kadaga wondered why the ministry of works was treating the collapse of buildings as an emergency yet the challenge has persisted over the years.  

In his previous addresses on the lockdown, President Yoweri Museveni allowed construction works to continue but directed that workers sleep at the building sites to tame the spread of coronavirus.

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