Uganda Tries Cost to Limit Graft

Uganda has taken on a new programme the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST), to promote transparency and accountability in the public construction sector.

The country recently joined other African countries such as Ethiopia, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia that are already members of the multi-stakeholder group and is setting roots to establish CoST in a partnership with other international stakeholders.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” Charles Mushota, the Executive Director CoST Zambia said while quoting famous physicist Albert Einstein.

He said: “But CoST has got the alternative towards our construction industry.”

While at a stakeholders meeting organised by Uganda National Roads Authority, Peter Mathews, a representative from CoST International Secretariat said the programme is a shared space for dialogue that may not previously have existed, and a body of professional opinion and aocacy.

Mathews said CoST does not conflict with the government operations, because it consists of government representatives as well.

The programme will be comprised of a Board of Directors, Civil Society organization members, contractors, government representatives and public and private sector representatives amongst others.

In association with Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA), the CoST programme is meant to ensure that there is public disclosure which stimulates the demand for information that will increase transparency and accountability in public construction, leading to improved value of money for construction projects.

It improves fairness in competition for contracts and can also increase the flow of foreign direct investment and development finance into a country’s construction sector.

Eyasu Yimer a representative from Ethiopia encouraged the Ugandan civil society to take up CoST because they are a major supporting unit.

“CoST has seen commitment from all sides. Civil society has been able to recommend some improvements in different projects.” Yimer said of the role civil society has played in Ethiopia.

Jehad Abdallah, the chairperson CoST Tanzania, said that like Uganda, the problems of corruption were rampant in the construction industry.

He said all it requires is political support, mainstreaming into existing structures like the private sector and the civil society, as well as legal requirement by dispersing information.

Uganda will establish the CoST assurance process in July, an assurance process in September, and the requirement for formal disclosure of information and implement a pilot on a small sample of projects.

It will also build capacity of procuring entities to disclose information, build capacity of civil society to use the disclosed information, establish a monitoring and reporting process in and agree a plan for scaling up the implementation in October, 2014.

CoST improves fairness in competition for contracts and can also increase the flow of foreign direct investment and development finance into a country’s construction sector.

It helps member countries to form and pursue shared objectives in improving value for money in construction projects and improving efficiency and effectiveness, resulting into better and more reliable infrastructure, freeing savings to extend social economic services and raising investor confidence.

The construction sector is central in the progress of nations however corruption tendencies have made it difficult to developing countries to achieve their objectives.

There is wide spread bribery allegations stemming right from the procurement process through the mismanagement of construction material on site.

It is these inappropriate behaviors that have led the construction sector to lose monies and substandard buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructures which don’t last long enough to serve its purpose.

In Uganda, there have been cases of buildings under construction collapsing due to poor engineering designs, poor materials and poor masonry.

Though the CoST programme curbs mismanagement, waste, corruption and reduces risks to public safety from poor building practices.

The construction sector is central in the progress of nations however corruption tendencies have made it difficult to developing countries to achieve their objectives.

There is wide spread bribery allegations stemming right from the procurement process through the mismanagement of construction material on site.

It is these inappropriate behaviors that have led the construction sector to lose monies and substandard buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructures which don’t last long enough to serve its purpose. In Uganda, there have been cases of buildings under construction collapsing due to poor engineering designs, poor materials and poor masonry.

CoST is important since a large chunk of the government budget goes into large infrastructure projects.

Source : East African Business Week

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