Firm, group train artisans on new skills for quality performance

Lagos state

Lagos state

Piqued by the incessant building collapse in Nigeria, of which artisans are said to be part of problems, a forum was organised to examine how their skills could be enhanced

FOLLOWING the continued scarcity of well trained artisans in the nation’s construction industry, professionals and manufacturing firms have moved to stem the tide, with the latest being a forum to enhance their professional competence in the built environment.

The programme organised by Messrs Lafarge Nigeria Limited, in collaboration with the Building Collapse and Prevention Guild (BCPG), a non governmental organization (NGO), took place at the Lagos Mainland Local government headquarters, Yaba, Lagos, and had in attendance, artisans of different trades and professionals, who brought their expertise to expose them to the challenges associated with their performances and the way out.

Many factors have been considered as major cause of building collapse, ranging from fake building materials, activities of quacks in the built environment, incidences of cutting corners, professional compromise, dearth of qualified or trained artisans, among others.

However, professional competence of artisans in Nigeria and inadequate numbers of various trades such as bricklayers, masons, electricians, welders, plumbers is one of the subjects that is being frequently addressed in recent times.

Speaking on the theme of discussion: “Time Out With Building Artisans in Nigeria”, Mr. Friday Chukwu, an engineer, said the main objective of the theme is to teach the artisans and let them officially know that they play a crucial role in the building industry; to show them that they are stakeholders and must become change agents to build right and reduce building collapse.

“Besides, that they should show professionalism in their work and positively assist the professionals such as the architects, engineers and manufacturers of genuine building materials in the quest for a well built society”, said Chukwu.

He lamented the influx of foreign artisans, especially, from neighbouring countries like Ghana, Benin republic and Togo, who, as a result the seeming incompetence and inadequate Nigerian artisans became the toast of many developers.

“For our artisans to meet up with their technical challenges, they must ensure that they attend various trainings and seminars. Besides, they should guide against any unethical practices such as conniving with developers to cut corners by using sub standard building materials or by not using sufficient materials”, Chukwu advised.

The President of BCPG, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, a professional builder, in his comment, condemned the attitude of young Nigerians to skill acquisition, especially, those who abandoned their trades and embrace commercial motorcycle operation, otherwise known as Okada.   

Awobodu, while acknowledging the importance of training of artisans and technicians for quality performance, regretted that combination of two factors; inferior building materials and incompetent artisans are one of the factors that contribute to defective buildings in the country.
“If there is control in building materials and we have competent artisans that involve in building construction, we would witness little of the menace of collapse building. Besides, there is need to encourage the youth that are not able to continue formal education to embrace learning of trades, instead of wasting their time riding Okada”, counseled Awobodu.

Mr. Solomon Ogunseye, an architect and former Controller for Works, in Lagos, who spoke on the topic; “Good Quality and Better Workmanship”, also emphasized the need for periodical training.

Ogunseye frowned at the habit of some senior artisans who usually delegate their apprentice to carry out jobs that they have little or no experience, saying such practice is inimical to quality performances.
Stressing his observations, he said problems occur occasionally as a result of many factors, ranging from wrong mix of materials, wrong application of materials, inability of artisans to read and interpret designs and drawings, among others.

“For effective performance, artisans must be able to interpret and analyse drawings. They need constant training and a want to suggest that artisans should endeavour to stand their ground if their client want them to compromise their professional integrity, either by wanting to cut corners or do any unethical dealings”.

He listed some building materials that should not be encouraged, especially, reinforcements that are sub-standard and foreign cables. He specifically mention “made in china”, cables, which he said are susceptible to melting and causing fire outbreaks.

Besides, Ogunseye warned against buying of re-bag cements, saying any cement products that is being re-bagged has lose its quality. He equally warned against using one bag of cement to mould 30-40 blocks, noting that a bag of cement cannot produce more than 15 blocks, or less.

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