You can now get building permits online in Uganda

With BIMS, a developer can apply for permits online. PHOTO/File.

What you need to know:

  • All the prescribed building control fees are paid for online since it is integrated with other online payment systems.
  • Indicate the plot number and specifications of the piece of land and the system will tell whether or not it is valid.

Uganda's construction industry has been slow to adapt to the use of modern technology.  

But National Building Review Board (NBRB), the building sector regulator has embraced digitalisation through the use of Building Industry Management system (BIMS).

The system was developed by a pool of local talents from NBRB and National Information Technology Authority - Uganda (NITA- U). Minister for Works and Transport Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala launched BIMS in December 2022, with the aim to digitise all the building control processes in Uganda.

BIMS guarantees improved supervision, monitoring and enforcement of existing building laws as a solution to the numerous building accidents, leading to loss of lives and property.

A developer can apply for building and occupation permits, commit the services of registered professionals, schedule for routine building operation inspections and get instant feedback for the services requested for, online using the BIMS.

All the prescribed building control fees are also paid for online since it is integrated with other online payment systems.

BIMS with the professionals
The system is integrated with the databases of professional and regulatory bodies such as Institution of Surveyors of Uganda (ISU), Architects Registration Board (ARB) and Engineers Registration Board (ERB). All registered Surveyors, Architects and Engineers that are allowed to practice during any given year are on the system. 

The surveyors using the system for example can confirm preparing the submitted boundary opening report, acceptance to supervise constructions, request routine inspection  and update the inspection booklet.

Architects can use BIMS to confirm having prepared the submitted architectural drawings, acknowledging the architectural drawings as their work. 

The engineers on the other hand are able to confirm preparation of the engineering drawings, request for routine inspection and update the inspection booklet. 

With this level of scrutiny, the non-professional and middlemen who have been numerously singled out in issuing wrong building plans and designs on many collapsed buildings are eliminated in the building control processes.

Payment of building control fees
The fees to be paid for all building control services are also automated. These fees are charged in square meter per floor area, depending on the classification and location of the building. 

After a developer fulfilling all the other requirements, they generate a payment reference number indicating the fees meant to be paid using any payment system of their choice.

BIMS is to guarantee efficient, transparent and predictable means of collecting building control fees by government.

Where BIMS is operating
Since its launch in December 2022, the system is now full operation in the 11 cities, 31 municipalities and the local governments of Wakiso, Mukono and Jinja among others. 

The building committees in these areas have been equipped ICT enabling equipment such as desk top computers, printers an internet connectivity to activate the system. 

Ideally, BIMS now helps the regulator monitoring building operations, developers to get the right services at the right time, URA in collecting revenue and government to know the level of development in the country.

About NBRB
The National Building Review Board (NBRB) is a corporate body established by the Building Control Act, 2013.

The NBRB, an agency under the Ministry of Works and Transport is mandated under section 9 of the Building Control Act, 2013 to monitor building developments, ensure design and construction of buildings accessible by persons with disabilities.  

NDRB also oversees and inspects the operations of the Building Committees, prepare and submit reports to the minister on matters relating to the sector. 

The Board further hears and determines appeals from persons dissatisfied with the decisions of Building Committees and determines fees to be charged by urban and district building committees for approval of plans, issue of building permits and occupation permits. 

Other benefits 
BIMS is integrated with the National Land Information System for purposes of land verification.

As a user of the system, your role is to indicate the plot number and specifications of the piece of land and the system will tell whether or not it is valid. And for those constructing as companies, the system is integrated with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau for purposes of company verification.