Quantity surveyors last week enjoined the Federal government to focus and exploit the construction industry, a strategic sector of the national economy in order to make a meaningful impact in the administration of the country.
They argue that the construction industry plays a vital role in the economy, and its activities are major drivers of national socio-economic development goals of providing shelter, infrastructure, and employment.
Speaking at a two-day workshop organised by the Nigerian Institution of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) on the theme: ‘Project Monitoring and Reporting Services for Financial Institutions/Third Party Funded or Sponsored Project Developments,’ in Abuja, NIQS President, Obafemi Onashile insisted that the new Federal Government’s most pressing and immediate task is to create new leadership initiatives for a fast double-digit growth of the national economy.
He observed that the construction industry is the second industry (after the agricultural industry) with potentials for the greatest impact on the national economy of many nations.
Onashile noted that in other climes, the construction industry plays a very pivotal role in infrastructure delivery, massive employment (especially the youth), domestic manufacturing through many cottage industries for producing, glass, ceramics, Iron billets and rods, aluminium sheets and profiles, paints, Plywoods and Timber profiles that can be consumed locally and even exported to other neighbouring countries to earn foreign exchange.
“With a booming construction industry, other construction resources such as construction plants and the vehicle will become locally assembled/made and thereby oiling the national economy for exponential performance,” he said.
NIQS President stated the setting of successful government policies and business plans must be all-encompassing and involving the politicians, the civil servants in the ministries, the researchers in the academia, the private sector drivers – (which are the chambers of commerce and other industries, professional institutions, and the trade unions) and the end-users represented by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other civil societies.
According to him, the practice of the past of relying on international management consultants and multilateral funding bodies such the world bank, to set up government policies for Nigeria and expect the MDA’S to simply drive such “externally crafted” policies after a conducted two- day management retreat has failed us woefully due to the disconnect between the policy crafters and the expected drivers’ as the drivers had no input in the policies.
To achieve a booming construction industry, the quantity surveyors advised the government to implement a social housing programme, which will provide homes for the vulnerable civil service employees, including the men and women in uniformed services.
“Apart from acting as a responsive employer looking after the well-being of its employees, this recommended action would also help curb corruption tendencies in government. A combination of different ways both through fiscal and monetary policies (but more of fiscal policies) can be utilized to accomplish this,” Onoshile said.
The institute also called for the re-vitalisation and re-orientation of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) so that it will be private sector driven rather than typical civil service leadership to tackle the issue of urbanization.
He said: “Brand new cities, as well as regeneration of some existing and mature cities, must be immediately planned and implemented by the Federal Government to consciously direct the course of growth of the environment and the standard of living of the citizens. Actions to improve transportation should be another priority. A combined rail and road infrastructure development focus is vital for long-term sustainable development.”
NIQS President further called for an urgent overhaul of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to make it more private sector- driven and ensure commercial-like transactions.
“There is the need to strengthen the PPP Schemes by fine-tuning the laws (the Act) to remove the loopholes that the private sector has been exploiting and frustrating the policy.
The PPP market needs to be further developed re-orientated and expanded to attract a greater number and serious-minded investors both foreign and domestic.
On the workshop, he stated that NIQS has part of its focus on promoting reforms has therefore deemed it necessary to prepare and equip its members for that needed special expertise of protecting development investments such as project monitoring that will ensure the successful and enviable growth of the construction industry that is very much desired.
His words: “Project monitoring service is recommended for project funders undertaking any sizeable project Investment, However, it is important for projects with a value over $3 million and absolutely essential for loan funded or grant-funded, public-funded projects of value in excess of $30million.
“Whilst these services is World Bank recognized and recommended. The CBN adopted and directed commercial banks to utilize independent project monitoring consultants (different from internal bank staff) when undertaking project-financing transactions in order to ensure the safety of the bank (customer/public) fund.”
He listed benefits of project monitoring services to include checkmating high cost of development projects, eliminating poorly designed projects that may threaten the investment, reducing spate of abandoned projects, ensuring projects are fit for purpose and building professionals are utilised in construction and are alive to their duties by being fairly remunerated. “Project monitoring seeks to avoid acrimonious/adversarial relationships between project designers and contractors and therefore prevent collusion and corruption,” he added.