The House of Representatives Committee on Works on Thursday stated that strengthening the Council for the Registration of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) to eliminate quackery from the profession informed the National Assembly’s decision to amend the establishment Act.
Speaking to journalists in his office in Abuja, the committee Chairman, Honourable Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu), said “the Act as it is now can only bark but cannot bite but with the passage of the Bill amending the Act, the Council can bark and bite now”.
Okechukwu said: “most of our people do not realise how our lives are controlled by engineers or by engineering.
“For you to be here and for you to be able to air what you are interviewing me, it has to be occasioned by engineers.
“The camera you are using has to be built by engineers, when you were coming out this morning you took a bath, to transport water from your tank or from the tap to your bath was done by an engineer.
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“For you to move to this place with a vehicle was done by an engineer; for us to have light and electricity, it is controlled by engineers,” he said.
Speaking further on the necessity of engineering and how indispensible they are in the society, the lawmaker added that “we felt that if these people are controlling us to this extent, we only remember them when buildings collapse, when we have air crash or accidents or brake failure or when there is no light, you begin to look for the “useless man who has done this.
“And we have lost a lot of lives based on the activities of engineers, and a lot of them who claim to be engineers are quacks.
“So there are conditions precedent for you to be an engineer; a practising engineer and you have to be tooled by a regulator every year.
“The essence of the amendment to the Engineers Registration, Etc Act, otherwise known as COREN Act is to make sure that our people are equipped enough, that people who are not professionals, who are not equipped, who will go and begin to do all manner of constructions are removed from the system.
We give them capacity to discipline, we give them capacity to punish and to fine and through that they will be able to raise some revenue and be able to control what happens in the profession.
“So for us legislators, it is a safety matter. It is a matter that goes to the core of our being. That roads fail you call engineer but there are people who are doing all manners of constructions without having the proper certificates to do so and the COREN Act as it is presently, is not able to punish anybody, he submitted.
He argued that since there was no adequate legal framework to hold professionals accountable using stringent punishment, it was necessary to amend the existing law that takes care of matters within the profession.
“You can control those who are professionals but you cannot control those who are outside the system. But now we have made it possible that you can control those who are outside the system who call themselves engineers but are not engineers.
“There are people who go ahead and give approval for roads and bridges and they will go and start constructing a bridge without a design and there are supposed to be quality assurance services to be done by consulting engineers.
“So it is a major issue for us as parliamentarians representing our people knowing the major pressure points that they have.
“In one of the states in the South East, a governor just got up and gave contracts, COREN had to investigate it and one of the bridges was deflecting and the solution to it was that they said go and have some pillars to support when something has a fundamental error; because prior to commencement even if you have to do piling, you have to do soil investigation to know the kind of application you have to do.
“So a lot of our citizens are exposed to some perils that are avoidable, so the COREN Act is supposed to cure that so that they become professionals in letter and in practice.
“And as a matter of fact, our own is to ensure that the passage of these bills begin to change the narrative both in efficiency, in the level of professionalism, in terms of exposure to raise our people’s experience,” he added.