The Architects’ Registration Council (ARC) is advancing on its quest of ensuring professionals uphold high ethical standards. ARC, a statutory body formed through an act of parliament which was first passed in 2008 and amended in 2014, is mandated with registering professionals within the architectural industry as well as regulating them. The Council’s Registrar, Mmilili Mojiwa Kenneth says they started registering members from late 2015. Kenneth is not an architect himself to stay clear of conflict of interest that could arise in the course of his work. His current duties and responsibilities include facilitating the execution of all functions of the council and enforcing the Architects’ Registration Act and Regulations. He also ensures that the council’s mandate is achieved and its decisions are implemented and issues practicing certificates to applicants as and when directed by the council. Kenneth says the council secretariat assumed office in 2015 following the amendment of the act but he explains that before the secretariat was set up there was a board that worked with government on issues concerning the industry. ARC started receiving applications in November 2015 and by last week it had 172 members on its books, but Kenneth says the number was subject to change as they admit new members or delist others. The intention, he says, is to admit more members and urges those who have not done so come forth. Every practicing architect, according to Kenneth, is compelled by the law to apply for membership of the council so as to offer protection to members of the public against issues that may arise as a result of any misconduct. He says anyone who offers any architectural services should apply for a practicing certificate and this applies to all private and public sector practitioners.
A practicing certificate is issued to someone who is responsible for overseeing the whole project and so far 53 certificates have been issued, says Kenneth. ARC falls under the ministry of Infrastructure and Housing Development. As a regulated profession, Kenneth says any member who is found to be contravening the act is liable to punishment which may involve suspension or in worst case revocation of a practicing certificate if found guilty. He urges the public to always engage registered professionals to ensure that they are serviced by qualified and ethical professionals. Kenneth says the ARC door is always open for the general public to come and have a look at the registration book of registered practitioners, though there is a fee to pay. For a member to be suspended Kenneth says it depends on case by case and the magnitude of the offence. However, he points out that a professional could be re-admitted at a later stage after they have re-applied and reassessed. Another matter that may lead to a member being removed from practicing is when they are found unfit to practice. In case a client feels unsatisfied by the work done by an architect, Kenneth says, there is a possibility of compensation from a Fidelity Fund that members contribute to. The Fund, he says, is administered by a board of trustees and in the event a client raises a complaint against architect and it is found that there has been an act of negligence on their part, this is where compensation is drawn to reimburse the aggrieved client.
Kenneth says any work should be done by a registered architect, warning that it is a contravention to the act for anyone to offer such services without formal registration. As the council is still relatively new, he says, they are currently working on public campaigns which will see the ARC holding workshops to sensitise the public about their mandate. Furthermore, he indicates that they will engage with all relevant stakeholders in order to convey the message on the importance of dealing with registered professionals. The challenge that the council is facing so far is of budget constraints. Kenneth says they only rely on subventions from government and other contributions from members to run their affairs, which makes it difficult for them to recruit more people at the secretariat. Notwithstanding limited resources, Kenneth is confident they have managed to pull through and survive so far. His qualifications include B.Tech Public Relations Management from Durban Institute of Technology and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). He has worked at ABM College as a Public Relations Officer (PRO) and as an Administration Officer at Botswana institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) at their satellite office in Francistown.