It has been 23years, since Goitsemodimo Manowe, a local architect, has been patiently and fervently pursuing the ideals of professional body and a regulatory authority for local architects.
23 years later Manowe has achieved both ideals for the profession. He was the convener of meetings that led to the setting up of the Botswana Architects Association, a professional body mainly concerned with the promotion of the professional development.
On Thursday last week Manowe, an architect by profession, launched the regulatory authority for architectural profession in Botswana, the Architects’ Registration Council (ARC) in front of over 150 stakeholders at the Cresta Lodge in Gaborone.
The ARC starts accepting applications for registrations from November 1. Stakeholders were briefed that they have six months window during which they have to normalise their profession, after which anyone not dully registered will be considered illegal operation.
Manowe says the six months window period will facilitate the process of normalisation; “ architects, technologists and draftspersons must use this window and apply now so that the law does not close them out six months down the line; failure to comply could affect even project sponsors who would not be able to engage their preferred architects who are not registered”, explains Manowe.
However Manowe says projects that are already on site will be allowed to proceed on condition that the principal in charge must apply for exemption within 60 days from September 2015 when the regulations were published. Manowe says the ARC will then where necessary issue letters of exemption with conditions, the aim of which is to permit completion of the projects and protect the project sponsor.
The regulatory authority was first established in 2010 by the parliamentary act of 2008 but experienced delays when it was realised that the Act that established the regulatory body did not have provision for seed funding from government.
According to Manowe when they took the Act back for amendment they also included new developments such as the registration of technologists and draftspersons who were not provided for in the original act, “” Otherwise those professionals (technologists and draftspersons) would have been locked out completely and they would not be able to enjoy any opportunities in providing service to the public; we feel it is a plus for those professionals although there were insinuations at the launch of this body that we were being hard at the technologists and draftspersons “.
“ We were proactive on the contrary, in changing the law to allow them space…as the country develops, and develops capacity and standards so will the limits of the various categories expanded”.
Manowe says their attempt to also include corporate entities for registrations were not successful for now but they will continue to revisit the matter.
Manowe says the public will enjoy the benefits from the regulatory body. “ What matters is for every country to ensure that the construction industry and the economy derive value for money from the profession; We want to ensure value for money, quality assurance, discipline and control; it has been laisser-faire, anybody calling themselves architects and charging fees; that situation is prevailing, but there is no value for money,) the loss on account of poor quality and building not being fit for purpose), so with this regulatory body the public will benefit immensely”, Manowe lauds.
The regulatory body will check properly if a professional is qualified and has the experience required, as well as monitoring activities and conduct of the professionals in the public interest.
He has also assured the public that all registered professionals will use the same tariffs or fees, which will be published so that consumers may understand how they should be billed for the various architectural services.
Manowe says they are taking the financial institutions on board to start factoring professional fees costs properly into projects they are funding, adding that the banks can rely on the ARC to verify the authenticity of the costs.
One of the major breakthroughs the ARC is hoped to make for Botswana is in the area of performance monitoring, which has been identified as a key aspect of project failures in Botswana. Manowe is of the view that project monitoring cannot be ably handled by government departments given capacity constraints of the public sector but is the responsibility of a regulatory body such as the ARC. “ We have mechanisms for ensuring performance on projects is adequate and proper; regulatory body like this one is best placed to ensure aspect of performance monitoring which is an additional benefit to the nation…”
Manowe says his body will among other things take interest in the improvement of standard and qualifications by liaising with key institutions such as the Botswana Qualifications Authority and Human Resource Development Council (HRDC).