Concerns mount over theft, vandalism on construction sites


Construction site

Construction companies are losing more than $1 billion yearly to equipment theft and vandalism. The incidence of theft and vandalism sometimes depend on the nature of construction work and these vary among housing developments, roads and highways construction, dam structures, airport, and stadia construction 

REAL Estate professionals have expressed concern over cases of threats and vandalism on construction sites, urging project managers and corporate organisations to put in place tested measures and thereby reduce usual losses and delay of projects, occasioned by theft and vandalism.

All over the globe, wherever construction is underway, there will be related problems of theft, but these may assume significance for a particular police jurisdiction only during a construction boom.

The form taken by the thefts will depend on the nature of the construction which can range from enormous projects for new highways and airports to in-fill housing developments in suburbs. Problems of theft and vandalism are paramount issues related to building sites.

The incidence of theft and vandalism sometimes depend on the nature of construction work and these vary among housing developments, roads and highways construction, dam structures, airport, and stadia construction.

Thieves and vandals can directly impact the success of a project and diminish the potential profitability of the project under construction. It is a considerable problem, it was said is more costly to large sized firms than smaller firms, but vandalism is more costly for smaller firms and this occurs despite the fact that larger firms use a greater number of measures to combat theft and vandalism on their construction sites.

The annual losses to the building industry as a result of criminal activities run into millions of dollars and, according to most industry stakeholders, losses are escalating each year.

In fact, construction companies are losing more than $1 billion yearly to equipment theft and vandalism. According to a study by Farinloye Oluranti Olupolola, Odusami Koleola Tunwase and Adewunmi Yewande Adetoro theft have had much financial burden on any project concerned. “In the past five years twenty two firms (53.7per cent) revealed to have experienced less than N1,000,000 estimated losses to theft, 16 firms (39per cent) experienced theft loss of between N1,000,000 and N10,000,000 while 3 firms (7.3per cent) also experienced an estimated loss N10,000,000 and above.”

President, Building Collapsed Prevention Guild (BCPG), Mr. Kunle Awobodu said theft and vandalism on project sites were not new to the construction industry, though efforts are still on-going to ensure reduction on sharp practices on building and, or project sites, and such action often leads to shortage of materials and the subsequent material underutilization in production of building among others.

Awobodu, a builder, said: “Pilfering has been a long time practice on sites. Such sharp practice could be traced to in-house construction workers or suppliers colluding with security guards.

It leads to shortage of materials and the subsequent material underutilization in production of building etc. “The implication of that is substandard construction.

Regular inventory or stocktaking can put the heist under control. Also regular change of guards is important. To further curb pilfering, big construction companies that usually suffer heavy losses in the heinous practice now employ technology such as close-circuit TV/ cameras.  “In the informal sector, clients, who do not utilize the system of bill of quantities to capture schedule of materials on their building projects are prone to being short-changed by the artisans, who would overestimate materials with the intention of smuggling the excess out of the site at the appropriate time.

Invariably, pilfering increases cost of project and can also reduce overall quality of project. It could create bad blood between client and the contractor or the site manager, he submitted.

Chairman, Nigerian Institute’ of Architect (NIA), Lagos State Chapter, Mr. Ladi Lewis, said there could be three forms of theft on construction site. These include theft by workers of tools and materials, after hours pilfering of lumber and other materials and theft by habitual offenders.

He said as long as life exists and human beings are deployed on construction sites, there is not way theft and vandalism could be totally eliminated.

In his view, he said clients and project managers should however, continue to ensure loopholes either in human or site management are blocked through the deployment of advanced, effective and efficient security measures.

But a town planner, Mr. Muyiwa Adelu said, the issue of theft and vandalism on building or construction sites is a reflection of the society we live in, as quite a lot of people live in penury and societal norms of morality are long jettisoned.

He added that without lifting the standing of living of the common man, the nation and the industry will continue to face the threat. On the effects on the real estate sector, Adelu, an expert on project management said theft and vandalism would increase the cost of production vis a vis housing delivery, substandard product delivery, failure to keep project delivery time frame, loss of confidence by the project owner or house subscribers and loss of revenue to the owner or project manager.

In his view to keep the challenge at bay, Adelu said: “Be careful in your work team recruitment especially the contract workers; have good security system, put proper monitoring team to allow for checks and balances, take only the required materials to site at each time, be conversant with the various departments at site, be generous to your workers and all work in Nigeria must meet living minimum wage.

Our Government should lead this then all must follow to ensure happy work force.” Enahoro Zedomi, an architect, gave economic reasons, ready market for pilfered construction materials, inadequate security measures by contractors to prevent sites from intruders and trespassers and use of undocumented and un-unionised workers on sites, could be attributed to some causes of theft and vandalism on project sites.

The act, according to Enahoro, would impact negatively on the entire project life span, including replacement of cost leads to increased costs, delay in project delivery especially if the stolen items need to be imported.

To prevent the act, Enahoro said contractors should ensure they have requisite all-risk insurance policy on their projects, use workers that belong to union and increase security measures on site.

Chief Executive Officer of construction investment company, Le’Venue Group, Mr. Jemine Adollo, apart from ensuring good security system, hiring the right kind of people, taking proper inventory and getting insurance, another sure way to prevent theft and vandalism on project sites is to compel the contractor to give a bond agreement on the project awarded to him or her.

Also, an architect, Mr. Olawale Timothy said theft and vandalism is the order of the day in any construction site but could be minimized. Preventing the act, Olawale said: “There is a saying that you use a thief to watch and catch a thief. Make everybody on site to be the watcher on site.

The supervisor, security and external body, who occasionally comes to site without notice to do a random check. To do that, you must bring to bear some security expertise.”

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