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Local contractors starved of jobs as foreign firms reap big

By Wainaina Wambu | December 5th 2020

Only two per cent of major construction projects are undertaken by local contractors, research by a State agency shows.

This is amid renewed efforts by the Ministry of Infrastructure to ensure that local contractors play a central role in key projects.

National Construction Authority (NCA) Chairman David Gaitho has urged for capacity building in the industry, noting that 73 per cent of stakeholders cited inadequate qualified workers, low coordination levels and lack of enforcement.

“Only two per cent of major construction projects are successfully undertaken by local contractors, while (the rest) are undertaken by foreign contractors,” he said.

The NCA had in a study sought to establish how to increase local contractors’ finance from 24 to 30 per cent and their participation in the construction sector from 15 to 50 per cent, he said.

Mr Gaitho, a quantity surveyor, was speaking yesterday during an ongoing stakeholder engagement on the enforcement of construction laws.

The engagement involved players in the energy sector. A similar forum for the roads sector was held two weeks ago and one is planned for water in the coming weeks.

Public Works Principal Secretary Gordon Kihalangwa called on the energy sector to rope in more contractors.

He said other sectors such as roads were working to ensure that local content was at least 30 per cent.

“Development of local contractors is really not felt in the energy sector. Whereas this is a specialised area, there needs to be an affirmative way to ensure local contractors also have a way,” he said.

“We have adequate brains in this country (and) enough technical officers.”

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