KCCA Asks Architects to Stop Drawing Construction Plans in Wetlands

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has asked architects to stop giving construction plans to developers whose plots may be in prohibited areas. These mainly include wetlands, but also gazetted open spaces, road reserves and other areas where such private development may not be allowed.

Dr Daniel Okello Ayen, the Director of Public Health and Environment at KCCA, says that if this became the habit of architects, it would resolve much of the problem of illegal structures in the city and protected areas.

Illegal structures and substandard works not only lead to loss of lives when buildings collapse but also cause financial loss to both the developer and the authority who have to enforce standards. This, according to Dr Okello will mean that construction will not proceed, or if it does, the enforcement team will easily deal with the developer in the absence of a plan by a certified architect.

Okello was speaking at a two-day Uganda Society of Architects Symposium that ended in Kampala on Friday. During the symposium, the architects also discussed how to protect open spaces in cities and public service facilities like drainage and other utility reserve areas.

Dr Emmanuel Senabulya, the President of the society, acknowledged that the proposal would go a long way in ensuring a quality building and construction industry. However, according to him, the sector has several layers of regulation all aimed at ensuring that developers do not run away with illegal structures.

Senabulya, however, also called for the review of the laws, saying some have become too archaic due to the rapid urbanization which also comes with changing needs and practices in the sector. According to him, even the facilities in Kampala that were planned and constructed decades ago need to be reviewed because the city, like the whole country, was meant for a much smaller population that the current one.

The society developed policies that they hoped would help city authorities reduce the effects of construction on the quality of life, as well as help in controlling floods, among others.

There are three main regulatory regimes in place to ensure standards in the sector. The Building Control Act 2013 caters for the erection of buildings to provide for building standards; to “promote and ensure planned, decent and safe building structures that are developed in harmony with the environment,” among others.

It also provides for the establishment of a National Building Review Board and Building Committees. 

The Building Control Regulations 2020 empower the Building Committees to require the owner of a building to employ an architect to draw a design, as a requirement for a construction permit, employ an engineer for the purposes of an engineering design and employ a surveyor for the purposes of surveying services such as processing boundary reports.

The architect and the engineer are supposed to be retained throughout construction, as well as a health and safety expert on site. The National Building (Structural Design) Code, 2019 was established to ensure that every building is designed in a manner that achieves an acceptable level of probability that it shall perform satisfactorily during its intended life.

It also ensures that a building will sustain all loads and deformations of normal construction and use, and has adequate durability and resistance to the effects of misuse and fire, among others. Senabulya says the main problem is the urge to get quick money from both the technical people in the construction sector and the manufacturers of the building materials.

He also welcomes the decision by the Ministry of Works and Housing to ban the use of f steel-timber concrete composite building method, saying it was just copied from other countries and implemented in Uganda with no studies and regulations.

The State Minister for Lands and Housing, Mario Obiga Kania says that the introduction of a new law, the Architects Act will strengthen the existing regulations like the Architects Registration Board, and will help curb substandard operations in the sector.  

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