By Kabuye Ronald
Uganda Association of Consulting Engineers UACE has revealed why foreign consultancy and construction firms dominate the market as opposed to local ones.
Dr Ronald Musenze the vice president of UACE and also the chief executive officer of Air Water Earth Limited attributed the cause to the tendency of government awarding lucrative tenders to foreign firms as opposed to local ones which also contributes to high prices of road constructions and other infrastructural projects in the country.
Musenze said that it beats their understanding why the country awards the contracts to foreign companies as opposed to able Ugandan firms which do the same work in a better way and at cheaper price.
It should be noted that the Entebbe express highway is the most expensive road in the world since its construction costed the country a whopping U.S.$476 million, with a shocking cost of U.S.$9.2 million per kilometer over and above the average $2 million per kilometer road.
“Much as government is the biggest spender in this sector, local contractors are struggling to get this money. It is sad that these foreign firms get the contracts, bring in their experts who represent 35% of the entire workforce but end up chewing 90% of the entire project funds,” said Musenze
He also cited the issues of funders influence on who should get contractors in addition to challenges of financing that is always a requirement by government hence a reason for favoring foreigners against locals
Dr Musenze further decried of the delayed payments, lengthy, tedious procurement and bureaucratic procedures, unfavorable tax returns, and low budgets as some of the other challenges the sector is faced with.
Irrespective of the challenges and unfair business practices highlighted, CoST Uganda Chapter has tried to make it possible for local firms to win tenders under its Open Contracting system.
According to statistics, local construction firms, which make up 98% of the entire industry, only account for less than 15% of the national construction works.
This was revealed during the Engineers interface with the media at Fairway Hotel in Kampala was organized by CoST Uganda to discuss Fair Business Practices.