Quantity surveyors are proposing a new set of guidance for the overhaul of the nation’s construction industry. They are also seeking for the establishment of a Federal Social Housing Corporation, which will deliver houses to the vulnerable civil servants, especially school teachers, military and para-military service personnel and other ministry workers.
Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), made the submission in Abuja when a delegation of the National Executive Council (NEC) and past presidents of the institute led by its President Obafemi Onashile paid a courtesy visit to President Muhammadu Buhari.
In his remarks, Onashile also called for the establishment of a Federal Construction Law Courts to resolve construction disputes and ensure fast and prompt resolution of construction cases which currently tend to last decades in courts.NIQS noted 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.
Onashile lamented the current practice in the construction industry where designers (most times engineers) 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 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 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 also 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 submitted to the President 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 emphasise 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.
He 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 that projects are now more complicated and complex, thus the need for and recognition of the services of professional project managers on large government projects in order to stem project failures. “Quantity Surveyors have in the recent years improved on our proficiencies and we do now possess relevant capacity to manage any size of projects together with the retinue of any combination of project teams. E
ven where projects are being donated to the government or being designed abroad and built by multinationals, Quantity Surveyors should be considered for appointments as Project Managers to act for the government,” he said.