Engineers seek role in FG’s new $20b project, train artisans

President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Otis Anyaeji.

Desirous of ensuring local content initiative in infrastructural development, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has called for the use of its members in the proposed $20billion rail transportation project.

President of the Society, Otis Anyaeji who made the appeal at the second public lecture/annual general meeting of the Lagos Branch, said that members of the profession should be considered in transforming the Nigerian rail project such as in the design and planning, earthwork and clearing amongst others, instead of giving out such jobs to foreigners.

Anyaeji explained that by local engineering firms in projects across all the sectors of Nigerian economy, it could bring a naturally blended home grown solutions to problems that are indigenous to the country unlike the kind of solutions from a foreigner who will fashioned out initiatives that would be to their own interest.

According to him, the rail plant laying fallow in Abuja which has the capacity to roll out about 600,000 tonnes of rails could be revamp through collaboration with foreign firms that have interest in investing in it and involvement of local engineers who could play the role of carrying out some modification on the plant thereby boosting Nigeria ability to produce rail at least for the next thirty years.

“If the indigenous jobs keep going to foreign firms, Nigerians will never get to practice their profession, sharpen their skills and deepen their involvement in the economy and more of our indigenous firms will continue to die”, he said.

In a lecture entitled, “Setting up a World Class Transportation System in Major Cities in Nigeria”, the Managing Director of Planet Project Limited, Mr. Otunola Adebayo who noted that an integrated transportation system is an enabler for economic growth and development, said Nigeria cannot develop without an efficient transport system that is comfortable, realistic, affordable and accessible to the citizens.

He canvassed for an integrated transport system that takes into consideration the use of ideal bus based solution rather than individual cars, transport system backed by strong finance and strong management institution as well as backed with technology.

According to him, there is the need to always carry out a feasibility study of societal problems like transportation challenges in cities before designing solutions to them in order to get the desired result.

Adebayo whose company is handling the Oshodi Bus Terminal project, urged Nigerian engineers to vigorously pursue their inclusion in the Nigerian rail project, compete favourably with innovative ideas, and develop business ideas that would make policy makers to explore their skills in designing world class road transport system.

Earlier, the Lagos branch Chairman of NSE, Johnson Akinwande said the issue of transportation is one of Nigeria’s greatest challenge going by the recent listing of Lagos state as the second most difficult place to live in, due to lack of adequate infrastructure especially mass transportation. Akinwande, an engineer said the time has come for everyone to come together to contribute to the growth of mass transportation in Lagos and Nigeria cities in general.

Similarly, the NSE Ikeja branch has trained about 50 artisans on health and safety maintenance in the construction process. The participants cut across the field of bricklaying, plumbing and electrical electronics.

The event formed part of activities to mark its 2017 engineering week. Speaking at the occassion held in Ogba, Chairman of the branch, Akintayo Akinola stressed the need to train professionals in doing the right thing.

He said: “If we refuse to involve the professionals to do the right thing from the beginning, the next thing is building collapse and I don’t know how many houses would still collapse and how many are about to but I hop that pennywise, pound foolish would stop in our environment”

“If everybody inculcate safety into their practice, I think, things would be better off. We must look at the drawings and consider if it is safe to work in an environment. We just have to add value to our technicians and artisans and that was what we focus on during the workshop and training but that cannot really take away the issue of building collapse”, he said.

According to him, the issue of building collapse is like looking at cancer and the best way to cure it is to really go into the foundation of the disease. “Many buildings may still collapse in Nigeria due to poor foundation upon which such buildings are built. The foundations of most of the buildings are not right and if the foundation is not right, people will continue to build and one day the building might collapse once it reach its elastic limit.”

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