Industrialist urges Buhari to review national infrastructure policy



A FORMER president of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), John Agboola Odeyemi, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to review the National Infrastructure Policy, towards meeting global best practices.
Odeyemi, who made this call in a brief interview with The Guardian on the sideline of the just concluded Building, Construction and Mining Mart Exhibition in Lagos, said the government needs to harmonize documents relating to the infrastructure, and planning and funding part of its key indicators before commencing construction of roads and other infrastructure.
“In Indonesia, before the developer gets planning approval, he must have shown how it is going to be funded, must have appointed contractors, and must have decided the length of construction. You see their billboards in front of new projects with all construction details. That is the way to curtail the construction abuse and abandon projects,” he said.
In his opening remarks at the exhibition, Odeyemi noted that Nigeria was the fastest growing construction market globally, unlike the past eight years when the focus was on Dubai, India, China, etc.

According to him, the shock from oil and gas industry has made it necessary for governments to focus on construction, mining and agriculture, which have been identified as growth areas in the economy, advising that the new government should focus on these sectors, especially agriculture in the foreseeable future.

He lamented the heavy debt burden on the local construction firms, saying, “we have lived with the haphazard and lopsided system of doing things in Nigeria for a long time since independence. There is no time you will not hear contractors are owed by both government and individuals.”

“Our commercial practice is not well regulated,” he said, explaining that “in other countries and even here in the early 60s when we practised the British system, no work was given to a contractor until funding was secured – saved, borrowed Adesinaor syndicated – and after that you bring in professionals in engineering, architecture and quantity surveying, etc, to guide you through certification and payment as and when due.”

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