Following the bad reputation and social challenges that have hit Chinese construction companies in the past few years, Uganda National Road Authority (UNRA), has today organized an engagement meeting with the Chinese road developers so that they can find lasting solutions to the challenges that have been facing both sides.
The meeting which took place at the UNRA offices in Kyaboga was attended by a number of Chinese construction companies, UNRA officials, and officials from the Chinese embassy in Kampala.
Among other issues, the Executive Director of UNRA, Allen Kagina asked the constructors to always endeavor to finish work in the planned time and also avoid substandard work that gets damaged in a few years.
Kagina also urged them to be mindful of their other obligations, especially social and environmental responsibilities.
“As an organization that overlooks road development in Uganda, we have put up standards that each company has to follow to be offered a contract. Social and environmental issues like road safety and security, child abuse through child labor and bad behavior that included raping women will not be tolerated,” said kagina.
She also told the Chinese contractors to help their local counterparts on how they can do their job perfectly as well as guide them on how they can also win contracts.
“We are aiming at developing local content. We want our local contractors to also be able to compete for the big contracts and we are counting on you to help them as part of your social responsibility. If we all work together, we can build roads that are of standard and everyone benefits,” Kagina revealed.
Allan SSempepwa, UNRA Media Relations Manager, said they choose to start with Chinese companies because they are the majority in road development and construction and also because of the unique relationship they have with UNRA.
“Since the new ED came in, they has been a lot of contract cancellation like you have been seeing in the news and this had stained the relationship between UNRA and the contractors. We wanted the contractors to meet with the new board so that they can tell us their challenges and we also tell them our expectations and their responsibilities so that we can work towards building quality roads that will benefit the common Ugandan and be worthy of his taxes,” he said.
Ssempebwa added: “This is an ongoing thing. In the near future, we will meet road maintenance companies that are mainly Ugandans and also have the same engagement meeting so that they are not left out. The Chinese that we met today are road developers.”
Mark Ssali, Head of Corporate Communications UNRA, said that the authority is dedicated to giving equal treatment to all contractors be it local or foreigners and that the only factor that determines who wins a contract will be their abilities to successfully build lasting jobs.