CIF calls for establishment of National Construction Council

WINDHOEK � The Construction Industries Federation of Namibia (CIF) is optimistic that lawmakers will focus on ensuring better opportunities for the Namibian construction sector and will explicitly address the extent of foreign involvement in the industry, which the federation says is currently to the detriment of Namibian contractors. This call by the CIF comes in the wake of the opening Parliament last week and expressly calls for legislation of a National Construction Council.

According to BA�rbel Kirchner, Consulting General Manager at the CIF, the federation has been pleading for years that a National Council for the Construction sector should be established, which would ensure that the construction sector is being regulated. A draft bill for the establishment of a National Construction Council was reviewed at a stakeholder workshop on 21 November 2018, organised by the Ministry of Works and Transport, under the auspices of Namibia's Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, Sankawasa James Sankwasa. The CIF is hopeful that the importance of greater regulation of the sector would be recognised when a revised bill is re-tabled in the National Assembly.

In a statement released on Friday, Kirchner remained adamant that a less regulated environment would provide the scope for many players to operate � including tenderpreneurs; foreign companies without being registered in Namibia, some of which without due consideration of local interests; as well as contractors taking on projects without sufficient experience, qualification or financial capacity.

The effect of such an unregulated environment, she emphasised, is that legitimate local contractors with adequate capacity are increasingly pushed aside; and that ongoing local capacity building, continued employment and the provision of decent work, increasingly is undermined.

Despite having waited for a long time, we remain hopeful that a Namibian Construction Council will soon become a reality. All our neighbours in the SADC region have such a council to regulate their construction industry. The industry is now also involved in the negotiations in the trade in services in the SADC region. Without any Namibian legislation for the construction sector we would increase our sector's vulnerability if we were to negotiate to increasingly liberalise the trade in construction services.

Everyone knows how vulnerable our industry is now. Much greater regulation in the interest of the survival of the construction industry is critically important. With the large-scale retrenchments and business closures in our industry, we need to have the required legislation to establish a council for the industry as soon as possible.

We need to introduce some major changes for the lasting positive impact for the construction industry. It is not only important that Namibian contractors are able to survive under current circumstances. Instead, once we have steered through current difficult times, we would like to see our industry thrive in the interest of Namibia, our population at large, Kirchner said.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia