Quality assurance in the construction industry has to be implemented

Quality assurance in the construction industry has to be implemented
Daniel Manduku, Chief Executive Officer, National Construction Authority
Quality assurance in the construction industry has to be implemented

The National Construction Authority was established by the National Construction Authority Act No. 41 of 2011. The Authority’s main mandate is to oversee the construction industry and coordinate its development. The Authority is geared towards streamlining, overhauling and regulating an industry that has for years suffered poor legislative framework and has been dominated by unqualified persons.

Quality assurance in the construction cannot be overemphasized. One key challenge facing the construction industry has been resistance to change. The industry had largely been dominated by rogue contractors, less informed developers, unskilled labour-force and several informal businesses within the entire supply chain of the construction.

As such, trying to professionalize the industry has not been without resistance. Also the challenge of inadequate political and social support from various stakeholders- particularly ignorant contractors, developers and labour force engaged in the industry.

Insufficient staff engaged in the authority to adequately cover the nationwide mandate has been a challenge along with inadequate finance from the exchequer to adequately facilitate quality assurance checks not mentioning the low levels of compliance by developers in project registration and construction levy payments. The authority also lacks enforcement capability and particularly prosecution power.

Over 16,000 contractors are registered to date in different categories ranging from buildings, civil works and other specialized contractors is a major achievement for us. To enhance compliance and quality assurance the authority has carried out several sting operations in construction sites across the country. Also through a national wide rapid results initiative the authority has approximately 150,000 registered site workers and supervisors, but not all of them are registered, since accreditation is granted once the registered and the unregistered site workers and supervisors meet a certain criteria.

However, through a consultative process the authority has developed and launched the first ever National Construction Research Agenda (Nacra). The agenda has 17 wide construction research areas which execution is aimed at providing practical solutions to most challenges facing the construction industry in Kenya.

Even though NCA is a major stakeholder in the slums upgrading programme, the authority is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Devolution. The NCA role in this has been technical design and supervision. The authority is currently playing a similar role in implementation of 20 Huduma Centres across the country.

Since last year, the authority has carried out over 15 contractors and construction workers trainings in different parts of the country. To date over 16,000 construction business owners and workers have been trained. Currently the Authority is training youths on civil works in five slums: Kibera, Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Kiandutu, Korogocho and Mathare.

As per the NCA Act, no. 41 of 2011, all construction projects are supposed to be registered with the authority. The authority has developed project registration criteria which requires among other things proof of approval of the project by other agencies such as the county governments’ development control units and the Nema.

The authority has also been undertaking joint quality assurance initiatives with county governments for example the Nairobi county government in carrying out building audits and inspections exercise. An initiative to bring the approval functions of the three institutions under one roof is underway to enhance service provision.

One of the problems is rogue people masquerading as contractors. They end up doing shoddy work. Some buildings are also put up without proper design structures.

In some cases, buildings don’t even have the necessary approvals for instance by county governments. Lack of projects supervision by qualified professionals has also been noted as a concern.

The use of counterfeit materials is also a problem. We also have inadequate construction skills in the industry leading to poor workmanship. That is why we have prioritised training artisans at the moment. No contractors have been blacklisted so far. However; there are a few contractors under investigations following some of the recent incidences of collapsing buildings.
Currently the buildings under construction which do not comply with the requirements of the relevant laws are stopped by the authority. The authority gives a copy of that order to the police in the area concerned to ensure the order is complied with.

The authority is also managing the issue through legislation, where NCA law requires that a minimum of 30 per cent of value of any contract won locally by foreign contractors will be undertaken by local contractors
The authority has already completed the first mapping survey of technical training institutions in Nairobi.

A similar exercise which commenced on September 14, 2015 is currently being carried out in all the counties.

The objective of this study is to reveal gaps in the training institutions with an aim of formulating policy recommendations to close them as well as establishing areas of cooperation between the authority and the training institutions.

The authority is also working closely with the TVETA to promote technical trainings in institutions of learning.

The authority has a well-developed database with approximately 150,000 accredited site supervisor and construction workers. They are from different disciplines such as masonry, carpentry and plumbing from which developers can choose from.To ensure the construction industry regulated to the level best.

We have to ensure quality assurance in the construction industry is implemented. It is our plan to enhance research in the construction industry. Our focus also is to build capacity within the construction industry.

In the long run, we would want to have a National Construction Training Institutes, National Construction Research Institutes and also see the establishment of construction funds. The funds will be deposited with the local banks in order to avail to local contractor a number of services. These will include cheaper loans and financing of projects, tender security bids, performance bonds and advance payment guarantees.

Ensuring that quality assurance in the construction industry is maintained will not only minimize fatalities in the construction industry in the country but also boost investor confidence.