Since yesterday, several people have asked me about my take on the presidential directive for the involvement of the Military in the construction sector.
I have helped the Malawi military by proposing for them military involvement in construction and now their military construction unit is fully established. However, in my proposal to them, 30% of civil construction should be allocated to them. and the rest to the private sector.
The peculiarity of the military makes it one of the most well-positioned institutions to succeed under a commercial undertaking owing to;
1. Accustomed to Strategy; The art of strategy, including business strategy, is a military science
2. The military exhibits an unshakable level of discipline in execution. Military training builds great capacity among armed men to maintain timeliness in the accomplishment of tasks. An uncompromising ability to galvanize the workforce towards achieving a common purpose.
3. Strong command and control. This will ensure work is done on time and corruption is reduced.
4. With increasing stability and no civil unrest in the country, the military is spending more and more time off the battlefield. Veterans remain redundant, and active force under-employed.
Therefore, while the government must continue to provide security to military installations and other classified facilities, 80% of martial time can now safely be re-deployed into commercial undertaking to benefit the force and the Country at large.
However, whereas it is a very good thing to involve the military in the construction sector, care should be taken to ensure that the still developing local construction industry which is employing thousands of people is not killed.
Most of the upcoming construction companies do not yet have the muscle to bid for huge donor-funded projects, hence they rely on the small government-funded school and health centre construction projects. This sector should not be given to the military construction wing, it will kill so many young construction companies who are employing hundreds of thousands of Ugandans and paying billions in taxes.
I would propose the Military Company should be equipped to participate in huge multi-million dollar construction projects which have been mostly taken by foreign international companies who actually repatriate all the profits to their home countries.
Just look at the Road Construction sector, this is mostly taken over by the Chinese companies who almost import all the construction materials from China. Most of their staff are from China even including drivers and operators of some of their machines. The locals are left with casual labour positions which do not fetch a lot of money. This is where the military should thump their chest. Construction of the Railway, huge bridges, Dams and Power Stations, Construction of a nuclear power station in Karamoja, construction of huge housing estates…these are things we need the military to engage in.
I will be glad to offer my services where it is needed to make this happen.