The leadership of the Contractors Association have said that an industry development authority is crucial if the sector has to be transformed and contribute meaningfully to development of the country.
The construction sector is currently reeling under several challenges – key among them delayed payments for works done, preference for foreign contractors over indigenous ones, and low capacity of indigenous construction firms. These challenges have existed over several years and are becoming the norm.
But the new President of the Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors of Ghana (ABCECG), Prosper Yao Ledi, said these negative practices must give way to a new phase wherein the indigenous contractor can also rub shoulders with contractors anywhere on the globe.
He explained that even when contracts are given to foreign companies ahead of Ghanaian firms, in most of the cases the foreign contractor sub-contracts the job to indigenous contractors. This, Mr. Ledi said, clearly shows that the Ghanaian contractor is capable and should therefore be given the opportunity to prove himself.
The President of ABCECG stated that transformation of the construction industry can only be achieved through a holistic approach. He however explained that the holistic approach can be attained through the establishment of an industry development authority that will regulate and ensure the sector proper transformation.
Contractors have mooted the idea of an industry regulator, which they have christened the Construction Industry Development Authority (CIDA). The CIDA will regulate the activities of contractors in the industry to ensure high standard of performance. It will also prescribe and enforce professional requirements according to the category of contractors. The Authority will also monitor and evaluate the performance and efficiency of registered contractors.
ABCECG is receiving funding support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund to make establishment of the Authority a reality. The Authority will not only seek to develop the industry but also ensure that all stakeholders, including government, act appropriately.
It is anticipated that the Authority will ensure delayed payments are reduced to the barest minimum, and when they occur interest will be paid to the contractor. In other jurisdictions, such an authority also ensures that no project begins unless funding has been duly secured – and contractors in Ghana are hoping that such a policy will become reality in Ghana as well.
Mr. Ledi explained that efforts to establish the Authority are far advanced, as the draft bill is being worked on. He is grateful to (BUSAC) for their support and said he is going to work with other stakeholders to complete work on the draft bill. He therefore called on the sector-minister to throw his weight behind the Authority’s establishment.
The ABCECG President also took the opportunity to urge government to pay the arrears owed contractors. He said contractors have been unfairly treated and some urgency should be attached to efforts to pay up the arrears, explaining that the delay is becoming unbearable.
He noted also that that current complaints of economic hardship in the country cannot be delinked from the contractors’ arrears, stating: “Let government pay the contractors and see if the complaints will not come down”.