The recent gas explosion at atomic junction on 7 October 2017 sent shivers down my spine. Very horrific incident, which could have been avoided if we took issues more seriously as a country. May the souls of those we lost in the incident rest in peace.
Whiles we were all engulfed in the mourning, lamentations and complaining, my mind went to the construction industry which equally posses the same if not a higher level of security risk and danger to human life and property due to neglect of the industry.
There appears to be a very slow or lack of appreciation of the interventions needed to redeem the construction industry to deliver quality products to guarantee value for money, security, health and safety of citizens. It appears as a country we are not doing what it takes to find sustainable solutions. Almost every time there is a disaster, we all lament and it ends there. Our lamentations do not spur us on to finding sustainable solutions. Over the past years (2012 – 2016), there has been at least five official major building collapses in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, alone that claimed a total of 23 lives.
The Melcom building collapse near Achimota in 2012 claimed 14 lives whereas the Grand View Hotel building collapse at Nii-Boi Town in 2014 recorded four deaths. Two other buildings collapsed in 2014; the building near Akai House at Cantonments owned by the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF) claimed one life while the Central University hostel building collapse in Dawhenya recorded no death.
This year alone, there has been a couple of building collapses. In a Joy News interview on 25th October, 2017 at 9:21am with Kwabena Nsenkyire (Ashanti Regional NADMO boss), over the collapse of a building in Kumasi, the NADMO blames it on Engineers. Which Engineer? The issue is that there is no deliberate strategy to fix the problem sustainably.
A building collapse in Malaysia triggered an action to set up a construction industrial development board to ensure the growth and development of the construction Industry. Today Malaysia and countries that have embraced development of the construction industry; a sector which contributes very significantly to GDP, averagely about 10% globally and 14.8% specifically in Ghana. Countries such as Malaysia are now exporting construction capacity and repatriating the profits into their countries. This imported capacity is what we cherish so much and pay attention to. This is a product of other countries deliberate policy to grow and develop the capacity of their construction service providers. Oh Ghana! Why are we doing this to ourselves?
Any work done in the past?
We have done a lot of stakeholder engagements on the need to relook at the sector but it doesn’t seem to be yielding results as quickly as one would have thought knowing the dangers associated with inaction and our high expectation for growth and development. Since 2010, I have been involved in a lot of initiatives to contribute my quota to finding a solution as an industry leader but it’s not yielding results. Examples of previous actions include:
- African Construction Development Conference – Ghana, with participation from many African countries from 8-9 November, 2012 at La Palm with Miss Hannah Serwa Tetteh opening the Conference on behalf of the President of the Republic of Ghana;
- Workshop on the need to sanitize and regulate the construction industry in Ghana in January, 2013;
- Visits to Malaysia and Singapore in March, 2013;
- Formation of Business Sector and Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund Built Environment Steering Committee (BBESC), April, 2013;
- Post-visit Conference for the adoption of framework for the establishment of a Construction Industry Regulatory Agency – the guest speaker being P.V. Obeng of blessed memory, with Dan Abedapi as Chairman and the Ministers of WRWH and MRH present, related MDAs submitted Papers, June, 2013;
- Consultancies for the drafting of the Construction Industry Development Authority Bill and identification of Sponsoring authority, July, 2013;
- Stakeholders’ Workshop on “Towards Establishing a Construction Industry Regulatory Agency”, which was addressed by Alban Bagbin, then Minister in July, 2014, and Stakeholder Meetings and Engagements at the MWRWH from 22nd June, 2015 to date;
- Business Advocate, a TV Series, for Thursday 9th July, 2015 on the Topic: “The State of the Construction Industry in Ghana”;
- Engagement on Comments on Construction Industry Authority Bill from the Attorney-Generals’ Office on 11th , and
- 11th Surveyors’ Week 22nd – 27th February, 2016 panel discussion on the theme “Built Environment Professional Collaborating for National Development – the case of Construction Industry of Ghana”, on the 25th February, 2016.
One of the actions worthy of emphasis was the comprehensive baseline research, sponsored by the BUSAC Fund, on how the construction industry can be developed, which recommended the development of a construction industry development authority (CIDA) as a panacea. CIDA will be the umbrella body to oversee construction industry development activities in Ghana. Its functions will be:
- Promote and implement policies and programmes to regulate the construction industry;
- Prescribe and maintain professional standards within the industry;
- Promote appropriate technology and designs;
- To facilitate technology transfer between foreign and local companies in the field of construction;
- Standardize and unify the documentation, practices and procedures for procurement to accord with the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663);
- Initiate policy refinement and development in co-operation with government;
- Facilitate communication between stakeholders in the construction industry on matters affecting the construction industry;
- Determine standards for the construction industry in consultation with the Minister;
- Establish a national register of contractors and suppliers to facilitate public sector procurement;
- As regulator, monitor and evaluate performance in compliance with this Act;
- Promote uniform application of policy throughout all spheres of government;
- Develop and promote appropriate training programmes for public sector officials, consultation with relevant institutions and professional bodies;
- Monitor economic activity within the construction industry and the measures by which public sector spending is scheduled;
- Promote export of construction goods and services;
Stakeholder ministries have reviewed these documents extensively; Road and Highway and Ministry of Works and Housing culminating into draft bill currently at Attorney General’s office. The last lap now will be championing of the bill by either Roads and Highway Ministry or Ministry of Works and Housing. We have a history of ignoring some of the important things in our development. For example, the Real Estate Agency Bill has existed for more than a decade with so little effort to make it a law to regulate the business in Ghana. Today, fraud and money laundering in the real estate industry has become rampant. It is our hope that the CIDA Bill will be taken more seriously as a necessity for our development. We wish therefore to call on all and sundry to put pressure to bear on the speedy passing of the bill on construction industry development in Ghana.