Can The Real Construction Managers Please Stand Up?

The need to successfully manage a project is no longer a luxury but a necessity. This was arguably the most memorable quote from Mr Nashon Okowa, chairman of The Association of Construction Managers of Kenya (ACMK),  uttered in the association’s End of year Gala dinner held at the Inter Continental Hotel last Thursday.

The event was graced by various notable heads including Marwa Kitayama (MP from Kuria West), Emmanuel Wangwe (MP Navakholo) and Fred Ouda (Mp from Kisumu Central) as well as representatives from big firms across the Construction Industry including Cytonn Investments, TechnoConstruct Kenya, Howard Humphreys East Africa, and Mentor Management Limited just to mention a few.

The association having been launched just recently, used the event as an opportunity to highlight their achievements over the past few months as well as some of the challenges faced in their quest to regulate how project management is being practiced in Kenya.

Nashon Okowa ACMK – Chairmain speaking at the Associations Launch on 31st March 2017. PHOTO/ ACMK

In a previous post, I had explained why a construction manager is a key player in the overall success of projects and the financial gains that companies stand to make by employing one.Their management function and leadership is an important asset within the industry as they are responsible for keeping the project up to date, within budget and within acceptable quality standards.

Current trends in project delivery methods have seen a shift to design/build and EPC (Engineering-Procure-Contract) methods where the contractor takes on more more risk than he would have in a traditional design-bid-build.

This is expected to result in an increase in uptake of construction managers as many firms, in a quest to improve their market share and gain a valuable competitive advantage against other companies, will seek to offer turnkey project management among their range of services.

So who qualifies to be a construction manager?

Currently the course is being offered at degree level, labeled as Bachelor of Construction management, Bachelor of Science (Construction Management), Bachelor of Technology (Building Construction) or Bachelor of The Built Environment (construction management) in The University Of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Technical University of Kenya and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University.

The Construction Project Managers & Construction Managers Bill 2017 proposes that all construction professionals including project managers should be registered with ACMK before they can be cleared to undertake any construction work in the country.

If passed, the Bill will establish a board that will vet and approve construction and project managers and prescribe an examination they must pass before they are registered with the association.“Subject to the approval of the Cabinet Secretary, the board may, from time to time, formulate, vary and carry into effect schemes and curricula for education in construction project management and construction management,” states the Bill.

As one Bob Ochieng, a construction manager by profession, rightly put it, ” It is important to note that the recently emerging bills and construction laws in Kenya are largely borrowed from the South African Model, for reasons that it seems to work in Africa and secondly, Kenya has benefited immensely from her students who have over the past years sought further education and greener pasture in South Africa.

Globally, there are emerging technological advancement, challenges and newer ways of doing things effectively or conveniently. Drawn from the desire to harvest the best of these worlds into a Kenyan experience, South Africa, it seems, is emerging as the new benchmark upon which Kenyan progress shall be measured, especially in the Architecture Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector.”


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