The four-floor building
under construction that collapsed in Kisenyi on Sunday afternoon killing seven
people was the second within a month to collapse. It followed another building that collapsed in Kitebi, Rubaga
Division, killing one person on August 18th 2021.
the preliminary investigations, everything that can go wrong was wrong on
Kisenyi construction site: the developer had no permit and shrugged off Kampala
Capital City Authority -KCCA order to stop construction, it had weak poles
that couldn’t support the slab according to National Building Review Board
Executive Secretary Flavia Bwire, construction materials seemed to be of poor
quality and the workmanship was poor.
told URN that eye witnesses on site told them that a truck that had brought
construction materials knocked one of the columns on the ground floor which
could have had an effect on building stability.
carried some samples for test to help us identify whether the quality of
materials was good or not,” Bwire told URN in an interview. Bwire says it's too early to authoritatively tell what
exactly caused the accident.Eyes will be on KCCA to ascertain if it did its
KCCA, Bwire says, has been asked to explain what transpired.
accident happens, we invite people in charge of the area to give us details of
the proceedings of that place. I don’t want to pass judgement until we have
spoken to them (KCCA),” Bwire says.
National Building Review Board is the supervisor of district building
committees which approve construction plans and building permits.
in the Building Control Act of 2013 and established about three years ago,
Bwire says the board hasn’t been “out there forcefully” doing its job because
it is the “first of its kind” in Uganda and had nowhere to learn
diagnosis of buildings that have collapsed in Kampala, Bwire says, they have
found that they are buildings that are not approved, not supervised by
qualified professionals and constructed with poor quality materials.
“most of the…
out:...material is wanting.”//
Regulation of construction phase
diagnosis of the problem, industrial players say should be on the entire cycle:
from drawing a plan to completion of a building and economics of the real
Nick Twimatsiko, an author and civil engineering consultant
and Dr Apollo Buregyeya, a civil engineering lecturer at Makerere University
say the focus be on the construction phase. Who is in charge of construction,
what materials are they using, what character is the developer and what role do
regulators such as KCCA and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) play in
the construction phase, are important questions.
that architectural and structural engineers who draw plans have never been
de-registered because of collapsed buildings, Twinamatsiko says it is an
indication that engineers aren’t the problem.
“Designs in Uganda are
always correct but the problem is at the implementation stage where the clients
get builders who at most have a diploma in engineering to manage the projects,”
Twinamatsiko says. “You can have designs that are correct but after they have
been approved, the client takes the drawings and cuts off the structural
engineer and begins to do his things with the builders that are completely
different from what is in the design.”
praise of Uganda’s engineers, Dr. Buregye says, “In Uganda, we have very good engineers
to take on construction tasks. We have much better engineers than you can find
in cities like Dubai, the only difference is commerce.”
is flooded has been flooded by diploma holders who aren’t competent for jobs
they are often given," Twinamatsiko says. "Such are people who end up making
decisions such as what kind of poles are needed to support the slab."
who previously was a board member of Uganda Business and Technical Examination
Board -UBTEB, says the institution is awarding diplomas to students who don’t
“They give diplomas to people who have got zero percent, someone gets a zero in an exam and is awarded a diploma,” he says.
people, Twinamatsiko argues, should not be in the industry in charge of
construction projects and making important decisions.
rid of incompetent people managing projects, Dr Buregyeya says regulators such
as KCCA and district building committee shouldn’t be approving plans when
developers have not proved that they have financial the capacity to undertake the
project and have signed binding contracts with qualified contractors supposed
to actualize the project. It is developers with insufficient capital, he says, who
end up going for cheap construction inputs such as cheap labour.
“people should get…
0ut:...away that role.”//
doesn’t make sense to put much emphasis on getting good quality cement without
bothering about how it is being used, Dr Buregyeya argues. That is why, he says, UNBS should take up the role of supervising construction standards.
fulfilling such a role requires them to visit construction sites and test how
cement gets mixed with sand and the quality of bricks that developers use.
emphasize that cement should be made following a standard but you don’t care
whether that cement binds a kifufu brick, clay or concrete brick?" he asks. "Why aren’t
these made following a standard? It's like you dress up well to go
and play in the mud.”
What about regulators such as KCCA?
“lame” excuse that the Kisenyi building wasn’t approved isn’t a plausible
explanation, Twinamatsiko says, because the Building Control Act gives KCCA
powers to stop any construction activity. KCCA said it was in the process of
stopping the construction.
Buregyeya says corrupt regulators such as KCCA are a major hindrance in the
process of approving plans when officials in charge of approving plans ask
for bribes to do their work.
“When a regulator looks at your drawings, their
interest is when am I going to have him so we can negotiate,” he says. “When
you tell a businessman that, he understands that addressing regulatory
requirements with cash is cheaper. He moves from complying to paying so that
the process runs fast.”
“when you have…
out:...complying to paying.”//
assuage the corruption problem, Bwire says National Building Review Board has
rolled out a digital system called national building industry management system
through which all plans are submitted for approval. The law requires building
committees to respond in 30 days. With the system, it is possible for the board
to know district committees that aren’t responding on time and ask them why.
And as to
whether KCCA has been up to the task given that buildings have been collapsing,
Bwire says they are going to review its performance.
“we are supposed…
out:...it or not.”//
How should blame be
and Buregyeya argue that developers take a substantial responsibility for the
projects. And as such, Twinamatsiko says, developers should “understand that the
cost of sidelining knowledge is actually higher than that of engaging