Experts seek support for professionals in construction industry
IRKED by the influx of foreign professionals into Nigeria, experts in the construction industry are calling for special financing products to professionals as part of its efforts to facilitate the process of economic development.
They recommended that World Bank through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and other banks should design and strengthen financial products that will foster collaboration between professionals and can lead to the formation of consortiums, adding that such finances should enjoy moratorium for a given period like the infant industry initiative.
The experts who met at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Association for Consulting Engineering in Nigeria (ACEN), held at Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, Lagos on the theme, ‘Multilateral Development Institutions’: Strategies for Consultants to key into their Development, stated that there is urgent need for consulting firms to perfect all joint venture agreements to avoid capital flight, which is detrimental to the economic growth of the nation.
ACEN President, Dr. Temilola Kehinde said: “World Bank in Nigeria, had established a threshold of project costs, about $300,000, where projects falling below this level are reserved for local consultants. The indication is that this ‘right of first refusal’ had not even attracted enough interest from our members. And where Nigerian firms had even come up, they are not members of ACEN; and the quality of service being delivered may not have been the best possible, and may have even blunted, rather than expand future opportunities.
“There are project opportunities with the Multilateral Agencies for studies and project preparation work that they carry out directly. We come forward typically in ‘too small outfits’, which may not be competitive; we do not display readily the necessary care and attention to bidding details.”
However, the Principal Partner, Unecon Associates Limited, Mr. Tunde Ogunde pointed out that “if consulting engineering in Nigeria could be described as one of the poorest in the world, then International Development Association (IDA) should come to the rescue of the industry and provide support that would lead to the creation of jobs which would in turn benefit both people and the economy. “
The Chief Executive Officer, Ove Arup & Partners Nigeria Limited, Kunle Adebajo called for government initiatives by legislative actions to recognise consulting engineering professionals as partners in the development process as well as ensure that contractual obligations are met especially in respect of payment for services.
Senior Procurement Specialist, World Bank, Adebayo Adeniyi, advocated for the establishment of standards and norms for best practice, codes of ethics that members are to observe in execution of their assignments.
He pledged to support ACEN initiatives and policies toward maintaining the highest level of integrity among their members.
President, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Kashim Ali disclosed plans to regulate activities in the area of practice to ensure that the local firms is better protected.
He said that COREN has also entered into Memorandum of Understanding with ACEN, which makes it mandatory for any prospective consulting firm seeking to register with COREN to have an ACEN certificate.