Unveiling a five-year strategic plan, the Ethiopian Construction Projects Management Institute (ECPMI) called for more regulatory and controlling power in the sector, a call the Ministry of Construction denied swiftly.
During a stakeholders’ meeting held on Wednesday in an attempt to review the draft five-year strategic plan devised by ECPMI, the institute requested more mandated to evaluate, regulate and audit the performance of public agencies engaged in construction projects.
Yoseph Birru (PhD), director general of the ECPMI, launching the draft strategic plan claimed that lack of regulatory power would cripple the institute’s role in the construction sector. According to Yoseph, construction project management is relatively a new practice in Ethiopia. Widespread lack of competency, skilled manpower and quality compromises are some of the challenges the Ethiopian construction sector has been facing. In order to alleviate such shortcomings, Yoseph demanded the institute should be given more mandate to have more power in the regulatory framework. He also requested an amendment in the directive that established the institute.
The director general’s call, however, seems unlikely to materialize as the ministry reserves the mandate for its own. Gebremeskel Chala, state Minister of the Construction, told The Reporter that the institute is not going to be tasked or mandated to have a regulatory power; yet he said it will have the necessary backing by the ministry to succeed in helping the sector met internationally accepted construction standards.
The draft strategic document outlined some of the major deficits of the construction sector. A relatively high cost of construction projects, considerable quality compromise and lack of on time delivery are some of the major issues the sector is grabbling with.
According to Yoseph, the remedial measure to minimize such shortcomings is to build capacities. For that, the institute targets to establish center of excellence in the construction project management. The excellence center, accordingly, will evaluate construction professionals ranging from fresh graduates to those practicing in field and plans to issue certification of competencies.
The state minister, on his part, believes the institute is better focused on how to capacitate local contractors and professionals to grasp the required skill and knowledge execute successful construction projects. According to Gebremeskel, the ministry helps construction professionals to have the financial as well as material supports that they need to excel.
Both Yoseph and the state minister noted that, the construction industry is one of the most corruption-exposed sectors in Ethiopia. Construction procurement is the best example of widespread unethical practice in the economy, Yoseph said. The state minister also noted that some project owners and contractors marginalize quality, most of the time compromising project designs.
In recent times, collapse of building structures, the coming down of foundations and the crumbling buildings and deadly falls into construction pits have been on the rise. Lack of proper regulation despite the existing building code is blamed for the recurrent incidents in the country, Yoseph noted.
The five-year strategic plan was reviewed by the members of the urban development and construction standing committee at the House of Peoples Representatives and expected to be further enriched and looked over by the ministry to be approved for implementations.
After two-and-a-half years of operation, the Ethiopian Construction Projects Management institute is also planning to branch out across the regions. Until recently, the institute was involved in advising the Addis Ababa Housing project scheme.