KAMPALA – Legislators have tasked the Ministry of Works and Transport to present a detailed report to Parliament on the collapse of buildings around the city within a week.
This followed presentation of a ministerial statement by the Minister of State for Transport, Hon Joy Kabatsi on the action taken by the ministry to enforce adherence to building standards and regulations. This comes after numerous accidents occurring at building sites, compensation of affected families and steps taken to stem the re-occurrence of such accidents.
Kabatsi said the Building and Construction Board which is charged with supervising construction sites has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and has not been able to carry out supervision.
She added that masons have taken advantage of the lockdown to put up buildings that have collapsed. She added that it is only after the lockdown that engineers responsible in the ministry will be able to fulfill their duties and curtail such mishaps.
“If there are buildings coming up in a rush during this period, we need to wait for the appropriate time for our engineers to intervene,” she added.
However, Legislators found the minister’s statement unsatisfactory adding that the matter was dire and required expeditious action from the Ministry.
The Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga said, “Is the Ministry of Works closed? If not, then the engineers ought to report back to duty and handle the matter”.
She added that collapsing buildings should constitute an emergency situation that dictates express action from the engineers in charge of supervising the buildings.
Butemba County MP, Hon Pentagon Kamusiime added that the systems within the government must be functional regardless of the prevailing situation.
“We need an assurance from the minister that means are devised within the ministry to manage these unscrupulous actions,” he added.
Hon. Joy Ongom (UPC, Lira District) added that, ‘the minister was seemingly not in charge if she cannot take charge of the matter’.
“Buildings have since time immemorial been collapsing and this is not the first time. The lockdown due to the pandemic should not be an excuse. The minister ought to take this seriously,” Ongom added.
Hon. Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko, (NRM, Nakifuma County) and Chairperson of the Committee on Physical Infrastructure said that in an interaction with Executive Secretary of the Building and Construction Board, he ascertained that it was poorly funded.
“From its inception, the Board does not have sufficient funding to execute its mandate which involves supervising construction projects,” he said.
Ssekitoleko however, said that a provision of Shs6 billion for the Board had been made in the budget for the financial year 2020 to 2021.
The Speaker directed the minister to deploy the engineers to do ground work on the matter and report back to Parliament.