By MAILESI BANDA

THE construction industry plays a fundamental role in the country’s economic development and is a critical catalyst for growth, says Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development, permanent secretary, Charles Mushota.
Mr Mushota explained that the microeconomic performance of the country improved in 2016, adding that the growth was mainly driven by mining, quarrying, construction and the manufacturing sector.
Speaking during the 8th graduation ceremony of the National Council for Construction School, he said Government was keen to ensure that local contractors flourished in the sector, adding that this was only possible with the training of skilled contractors.
He explained that the construction sector faced a number of challenges that the government was striving to solve to make the sector competitive.
“Despite these positive developments, it’s important to note that there are a number of challenges faced by the construction sector which require innovative solutions to overcome.
“These include raising project costs which would be attributed to the rise in prices of raw materials, delayed payments to contractors and limited skills have continued to be major challenges, he said.
Mr. Mushota appealed to local contractors to perform to expected standards and meet their obligations towards work, adding that the Government was keen to see the local construction sector flourish.
He said the government had embarked on capacity building for the construction sector through the NCC school.
He explained that the construction school was focusing on enhancing the quality of training and increasing its relevance to the needs of the construction industry adding that various sectors of the economy required different skills to develop.
“There are over 4000 small and medium entrepreneurs registered with NCC but most of them lack the human and financial capacity to attain competitive threshold which are dominated by foreign contractors hence the government’s decision to help link capacity building to actual infrastructure projects,” he said.
And NCC executive director, Matthews Ngulube announced that 313 students were graduating from the construction school with 87 being females.
He said the graduates would contribute to the sustainable development of the country by promoting quality infrastructure development.

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