SON Urge Importers to Venture into Manufacturing

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Bennett Oghifo

The Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), has called for the establishment of Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), to ensure the implementation of cross-cutting policies within the industry in Nigeria.

The CIDB would be made up of experienced professionals in the Construction Industry, according to the President of the Institute, QS Obafemi Onashile, who made the submission in Abuja during the official commissioning of the Institute’s magnificent 5-Storey Head Office building located in Mabushi District, Abuja on Saturday as part of the activities to mark the Institute’s 50th Anniversary celebration.

Onashile said the Construction Industry in Nigeria faces challenges ranging from Building Collapse, Injuries and Death on Construction Sites, Non Payment of Contractors and Consultants Fees, Environment Degradation, Housing Deficit, High Cost of Construction and Shortage of Artisans, among others, resulting in stunted growth of the Industry.

He noted also that unclear delineation of Professional functions amongst construction professions within the government is making massive corruption and incompetence to persist on projects with attendant negative consequences on the economy.

The NIQS President lamented the current practice in the Construction Industry where Designers are also the Cost Advisers, insisting that such a practice was not transparent and should be stopped in Nigeria, if the nation truly wishes to move forward.

He said Quantity Surveyors should be mandated and allowed to undertake Cost Management of projects of all forms on behalf of Government (be it Refineries, Roads and Bridges, Marine and Harbour works, Airport Runways and Terminal Buildings etc.) whilst Engineers should be compelled to focus and deliver on Designs and implementations of Projects.

 “In situations where Quantity Surveyors are excluded from performing the role of Cost Advisers/Managers, the Cost Management of such projects become arbitrarily done by “provisions” being made in the contracts. These “provisions” can be over bloated and thus leading to unduly high construction costs or alternatively under-provided and thus leading to project frustrations, poor quality works and discouragement of the parties,” he explained.

The NIQS boss also said that procurements and indeed Construction Standards were being bastardized and out of tune with international global standards and best practices noting that a local arrangement called “BEME” (Bills of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation) in the Nigerian Construction Industry was alien to international procurement standards.

According to him, “the World Bank and other international procurement reviewing organizations do not know this “Nigerian arrangement”. It is not in their books. The Government should denounce this and ensure that our national procurements for infrastructures are at par with global standards and should insist on “Bills of Quantities”.

He called on the Federal Government to establish the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) comprising of Construction Institutions representatives, the Ministry of Works and Housing key Directors and representatives of Directors of Construction Companies.

Expatiating on the draft bills the Institute submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for onward presentation to the legislature as Executive Bills, Onashile said once the NIQS draft Bill to Assure and Control Construction Industry Payments is signed into law, it will help curb corruption in the Industry giving legal recognition and respect for Construction Contracts and Payment obligations.

“We equally like to emphasize the promotion of Welfare and Professionalism by every stakeholder involved with Construction. To this end, the NIQS has drafted a Bill for enactment to Regulate and Control Building and Construction Industry Health and Safety. This law once signed into operation will bring to immediate halt to the issues of collapse buildings currently ravaging our country,” Onashile said.

Onashile also said there is an urgent need to create a Directorate of Quantity Surveying and Project Costs Management, just like Directorates of Civil Engineering and Housing as well as the establishment of Federal Construction Law Courts to specifically focus on Construction disputes and ensure faster and prompt resolution of construction cases which currently tend to last decades in Courts.

He said the acknowledgement that projects are now more complicated and complex makes recognition of the services of Professional Project Managers on large government projects in order to stem project failures inevitable.

Shedding light on the journey so far, Onashile said the NIQS recently signed reciprocity agreement the Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (CIQS) as part of the current strategic reforms that the Institute is undergoing towards the growth of the Nigerian Construction Industry.

He said with the endorsement by international QS institutions across the globe, NIQS was now at par with global standards and its members now acceptable for employment anywhere in the world.

Onashile called on other professions in the Construction Industry to seek global benchmarking as a way of ensuring best practices in the Industry.

The Chairman of the occasion, Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (Rtd) while unveiling the NIQS Head office building applauded the Institute for promoting professionalism in the Construction Industry.

Activities lined up for the celebration include the presentation of the NIQS History book as well as anniversary dinner and awards ceremony during which members of the Institute who have distinguished themselves in the profession will be recognised.