Engineers seek new COREN law, low cost housing

Side view of an estate

Side view of an estate

For as long as these well-established institutions are tied down by obnoxious laws between COREN and Nigerian Society of Engineers, we will continue to beat about the bush on issues relating to true engineering development in Nigeria

TO unearth the potentials of engineering practice in Nigeria, the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE), has called for a review of the law governing the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).

Similarly, the group last week in Abuja tasked students of Nigerian tertiary institutions to take on the challenge of developing low cost housing design that could help the nation to further reduce the burden of homelessness occasioned by the insurgent crisis in the north eastern part of the country.

President, NIStructE, Dr. Samuel Ilugbekhai, made the call last week in Abuja, while unveiling a N250,000 low cost housing design for resettling of the Internally Displaced People (IDP). The feat was part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the institution to support the displaced citizens.

The institution had challenged students of engineering and architecture in all Nigerian universities to make entries for the purpose and design low cost house that will take into consideration structural stability, safety, cultural consideration, durability and use of local materials among others.

Twelve entries were submitted for the competition where the Earth Bag Housing solution, a team of three 400 level architectural students from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria emerged the winner with a prize of N1 million, while the second prize of N500,000 went to  House 1111 team  and the I-DARE team came third with N250,000 prize.   

Ilugbekhai, in his address at the opening session of the 28th Annual Conference of NIStructE themed ‘Structural Engineering Excellence In An Environment Inundated with Collapse’ held in Abuja last week, said the institution adopted the house design as CSR to encourage students of engineering and architecture in tertiary institution across the country.

Ilugbekhai, who lamented the frequent collapse of buildings in the country over the years, stressed that since the institution was established in 1968, no member has been involved in a single collapsed building incident.

“We are rising up to the occasion, once again, to address the negative effects of the wanton collapse of buildings in our environment with a view to achieving safer buildings and to ensure that the phenomenon of collapsed buildings in Nigeria is a thing of the past.

“It is regrettable that more and more buildings are collapsing all over the country despite the well meaning efforts of organisation such as ours, in combating the menace. Most of the incidences reported in the last couple of months were dangerous and fatal, claiming lives, maiming people and destroying property,” he said.

The NIStructE boss explained that structural engineering is the foundation of the development of every nation in the world today, adding that that is why other nations guard their structural engineering industry jealously for the safety of lives and property of their citizens but that in Nigeria, that is not the case.

“We are once again requesting that the qualified and competent practice of structural engineering in Nigeria should be backed by a specific structural engineering legislation and there will be a stop to Nigerians dying in collapsed buildings in their own country.”

Ilugbekhai, who commended the achievements of the Federal Government, however, expressed fear that not much can be achieved in the engineering
development of the nation with the current structure of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), which has cocooned all the productive professional engineering career institutions such as the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers, the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers and others to the engineering detriment of the whole nation.

“The Nigerian Society of Engineers as presently constituted is an unnecessary duplication of the roles and responsibilities of the various well established engineering institutions, which it is sitting on and suffocating, thereby confusing the general public, demoralizing engineers and creating an atmosphere for quacks to operate.

“For as long as these well-established institutions are tied down by obnoxious laws between COREN and The Nigerian Society of Engineers, we will continue to beat about the bush on issues relating to true engineering development in Nigeria.

“To take full advantage of the in-built potentials of the result oriented Nigerian professional engineers therefore, we must disestablish the Nigerian Society of Engineers, as presently constituted, now and amend the latest COREN law, for the direct empowerment of the various engineering institutions, already in existence, which the NSE is sitting on, and challenge them directly along the lines of their specific areas of core competences for the accelerated and synchronized engineering development of Nigeria,” he stressed.

President Mahammudu Buhari, who was represented at the conference by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Works, Mr. Dauda Kigbu, said the frequent incident of collapse building in the country was not acceptable.

He urged the institution to urgently find a lasting solution to building collapse in the country. President Buhari called on the institution to partner with other professionals to address the menace.

“You must strive to achieve excellence through training and re-training of members to find a lasting solution to the building collapse,” he stressed.
Guest Speaker and Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, represented by the state Commissioner for Works and Transport, Mr. Usman Hassan, said the theme of the conference was apt and that building collapse has indeed become an epidemic in the country, taking a terrible toll in lives and causing considerable international embarrassment.

“As structural engineers, it is apt that you are considering the matter of building collapse. The country needs the urgent help of professionals in the construction industry to address what has become an issue of public safety,” he stressed.

President of NSE, Isaac Ademola Olorunfemi, represented by Mr. Joseph Akinteye, an engineer, said NSE was ready to partner with the structural engineers to promote the low cost house design to the relevant authority starting from the presidency.   

Ministerial-nominee, Suleiman Adamu, an engineer, advised engineers to move beyond rhetoric’s to address the issue of collapse building. He encouraged engineers to engage in community engineering and partner with state governments. Past President, NIStructE, Mr. Ike Chukwuneke, noted that, the professional fee of the institution needed a review to attract young engineers into the profession.

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