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Dealers of Building Materials, Manufacturers Agree to Better Construction Industry :: Uganda Radionetwork

Dealers of Building Materials, Manufacturers Agree to Better Construction Industry

Accusations and counter-accusation dominated what was also the first dialogue for the building materials supply chain actors over the standards in the construction industry.

Audio 8

Players along the building materials supply chain have signed a memorandum of understanding under which they pledge to work together through the Buy Uganda, Build Uganda initiative.

This called for commitment from the manufacturers, distributors, and the construction industry to prove the standards in the building materials sector.

However, accusations and counter-accusation dominated what was also the first dialogue for the building materials supply chain actors over the standards in the construction industry.

The event organized by the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) at their showgrounds was aimed at finding out the causes of poor standards in the industry and chat ways of rebuilding market confidence.

The UMA Board Chairman, Aga Sekala listed the challenges that the manufacturers face, including the high costs of doing business due to expensive fuel and electricity, the high and many taxes, the complex procurement processes for government contracts, and unfair competition, among others.

Oscar Kamukama, the Marketing Manager at Steel and Tube Industries who presented a paper on behalf of the manufacturers also reported the practice of some manufacturers who open outlets for the public to access their items cheaply, hence making it hard for the distributors to do business.

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This was also echoed by the dealers in building materials under their organization, the Construction and Hardware Dealers Association (CHADA). The sssociation chairman Abas Mutyaba described it as an unfair competition.

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Apollo Buregyeya, the chairperson of the Uganda National Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors, said that this kind of syndicating distorts the market but also sends a bad image of the country to the International community.

He stressed that there are manufacturers who practice market discrimination, selling products to a certain group of dealers at lower prices than those quoted for the rest of the dealers.

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Both the industrialists and the distributors accused the government agencies, especially the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) of high-handedness in dealing with them.

Abas Mutyaba, the Chairman, of the Construction and Hardware Dealers Association (CHADA) faulted UNBS for targeting their shops instead of going for the factories that produce substandard products.

He said that they are incapable of telling whether a product is substandard or not, but that the standards body doesn't consider that.

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They also accused UNBS of "imposing standards copied from other countries without considering the environment in which the Ugandan industry operates".

But Patricia Ejalu Bageine dismissed the claim, explaining that the Ugandan standards are not developed by UNBS, but jointly by the industry, experts, government agencies, and the academia, among others, which form the technical committee for the standard.

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She warned that UNBS will continue being strict on standards even if it means slowing down the expansion of the Industry.

According to her, like what is happening with China, it would be a hard task for Uganda to ignore standards now and then fight in the future to build the confidence of the market about the local products.

She said in the regional market, no country has rejected Ugandan products on standards issues, but that the countries are playing in competition.

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The State Minister for Industry, David Bahati told the business community to compile a report on all their challenges so that the government sees how to intervene.

Bahati also assured them that most of the issues raised could be handled under the different legislations available like the Competitions Act, the PPDA Act, and the Consumer Protection and Local Content laws which are still in the pipeline.

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Judith Nabakooba, the Minister for Lands and Urban Development, tasked them to find out who is responsible for the collapsing buildings, between the producers of the building materials and the construction professionals.

She, however, stressed that there is also a need for stricter standards in the housing sector because, away from the strength of the buildings, some houses can be too inconvenient for habitation.

//We need to...

Cue out:...the Condominium Act."//

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