NIA canvasses inclusion in town planning schemes



AMID haphazard development, continued uncontrolled growth of cities and towns, architects are demanding to be included among town planners in matters of physical development, especially city planning activities in the country.

The Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) made the call at the 2015 Colloquium of the institute with the theme, “Architecture and the National Development Agenda, and also called for the development of a national integrated physical development plan to address present challenges, which continually pose problems in regards to sanitation, traffic, open spaces, population distribution, population and land imbalance, rural –urban migration and urbanscapes.

The institute noted in a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting that huge debt owed contractors has been one of the greatest deterrents to growth of indigenous construction delivery system and asked that concerted efforts be made to pay ascertained debt within a reasonable time frame.

NIA President, Waheed Niyi Brimmo stated that the building and construction industry, which contributes up to 20per cent of the GDP in an emerging economy has been bedeviled by myriads of challenges and abuses and has subsequently been underperforming by not fully contributing to GDP, not offering expected number and variety of gainful employment, un-competitiveness of price of products and services, poor standards and hampered creativity and innovation.

He noted that inconsistencies in policy formulation and implementation, disregard for professionalism in Project Conception and Planning, lack of funding at affordable costs and appropriate tenure and absence of holistic local content initiatives are key challenges facing the Building and construction Industry.

Brimmo noted that with the enormous potentials of the Construction Industry to contribute to economic and human development growth of the nation, indigenous construction firms needs patronage and protection while at the same time encouraging the production and consumption of local building materials, plant and equipment.

He urged that the protracted budgetary process that makes project scheduling bedeviled with uncertainties be addressed and targets of developments in each budgetary provision be optimally accomplished and so ascertained by stakeholders.

Brimmo listed areas requiring holistic, informed and urgent interventions to include  National/Regional Physical Planning ( Urban Design and Housing), Involvement of professionals,  Procurement System, Building and Construction Industry/ Local Building materials, Energy Sources and Vocational Training.

The NIA president who observed that housing has received well deserved publicity in recent years, insisted that except its provision recognizes interrelatedness to other places (work, commerce, recreation among others) it becomes a mirage.
He said, “It is paradoxical that in a world where complexities abound and the best expertise are hard at unraveling economic-, environmental-, socio-cultural-, security- and engineering-knots among others that sub-professionals and commissioned agents have field days in our nation. On the other extreme foreigners, some of questionable status, are saddled with critical and sensitive projects fuelling national insecurity and capital flight.

“It is our very strong opinion that only registered Nigerian professionals should be given equal opportunities in all procurement procedures and rendering of professional services. Indigenous professionals must be protected, patronized and promoted. Nigerian architects have the capability to provide excellent services that are culturally relevant and only continued patronage will guarantee enhanced performance and exposure. Architects must be duly involved in all building and related projects from conception through construction to post-occupancy evaluation”.

While noting that the procurement system in the country has been compromised, he sought for a surgical exercise with deterrent legislation and forensic monitoring is urgently needed to stem alarming leakages, mediocrity and absurdities. “Beyond rhetoric this is a task that must be done to ensure that every kobo counts”.

According to him, with our present national development challenges and the beleaguered vocational training, a radical approach is required if what remains of Nigerian skilled labour force will survive.

“Our current experiences should be allowed to produce innovative approaches in all aspects of our national life. Necessity births invention. Care must be exercised in adopting templates that guarantee quick fixes. We have all endowments to create our own path to real greatness characterized by innovation and creativity. It is our strong conviction as an Institute that diverse approaches abound to accomplish these highlighted interventions and most can be reasonably accomplished within a four-year term if sloganeering is replaced with social engineering, inclusiveness, transparency and selflessness” he added.

“Architects should go beyond doing beautiful designs, they should go ahead to tackle challenges – the red cities must be turned green. We have to return to rural architecture because the villages are green but the cities are red,” the colloquium advised.

It spelt out simple principles of sustainable building design which must not be over looked: site optimization, location, orientation, security and energy use.

The architects observed that  where building materials are sourced more than 500 kilometers away, there cannot be sustainability.

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