Engineers bemoan exclusion from Chinese project execution

Otis-AnyaejiThe Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) has alleged that the recently signed Nigerian-Chinese bi-lateral agreements are lopsided as they will benefit only Chinese manpower and further under-develop Nigeria in the process.

The President of the Society, Otis Anyaeji, who disclosed this in Abuja recently stressed the need for government to devise a means that will ensure the country reap maximally from deals with international lenders or donors.

He argued that the on-going practice tend to work against the participation of local professionals in the very important infrastructure projects being financed by them.

He mentioned the rehabilitation of the Nigerian Railways Rehabilitation and Expansion Projects and the airport terminal buildings at major airports across the country as examples of projects where Nigerian professional were excluded from project execution.

He submitted that projects do not appear to include any space for local participation as advocated by Engineers Against Poverty (EAP), Engineers without Frontiers (EwF) and other multilateral donors.

He added: “Since our country must pay back borrowed funds for these projects, we must endeavour to benefit beyond the completed infrastructure from the transactions, to the advantage of shoring up technology acquisitions and, by implication, local content development.”

He said it is notable that the performance of the local industry is not in doubt anytime an enabling environment is provided.

The NSE boss also cautioned the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr Ibe Kachikwu against sending a wrong message that competence in engineering, science and technology are not necessary for enhanced performance of the Corporation by preponderantly subordinating Engineers to the leadership of other professionals.

Anyaeji said the NSE understands the exigencies for the restructuring but insisted that a more strategic approach that pushes for building institutional capacity through development of skills and competencies, best-in-class science and engineering innovation culture anchored on highly productive and competitive business and safety model are needed to drive the restructuring process to a successful conclusion.

The Society observed an increased tendency to appoint administrators into the various positions instead of Engineers with proven business and leadership skills, which is the industry best practice.

It insisted that appropriate safety culture in a corporation with high level of hazards and risks demands that the GMD takes visible leadership and drive the emplacement of such, hence subordination of Engineering and Safety to human resource is not an acceptable industry practice, saying, “corporate direct reporting of Engineering and Safety is the only way the GMD can give the right emphasis to safety in operations management. NNPC being an Engineer-based Corporation requires Office of The Engineer of the Corporation for Design approvals and Process/Procedure optimization Corporate-wide typical to Engineering Home Office. To Neglect this position is to perpetually sideline Nigerian Engineers and all effort for Local Content Development.”

He argued that the position of the Corporation’s Engineer should be maintained at directorate level for safety and accountability along with effective corporate standards and oversight.

Anyaeji said NSE and Council for the Registration of Engineering Practice in Nigeria (COREN) be invited to review and authenticate on the forthcoming new structure and the Engineering personnel to man them.

Expressing worries over incessant collapse of buildings in the country, Anyaeji said collapsed building at the Synagogue church, the Lekki Gardens, the Ultra-Modern market at Itoku, Abeokuta and the recent collapse of the hostel at Oko, Anambra State are worrisome.

He stressed that incidences of collapsed buildings would have been prevented in the first place if the owners, (government or individuals) engaged qualified engineering professionals in the relevant fields for the design and construction supervision of the projects.

His words: “Reports from our members in the instances mentioned revealed the probable complicity of government and government officials in the events that led to the accidents and even the attempts to investigate the collapses with the intention of learning from them in order to forestall a reoccurrence were frustrated.”

He posited that the major common factor in most collapsed buildings is that vital evidences that could reveal the causes of the failure are often destroyed during rescue operations.

NSE therefore urged COREN to be more proactive and devise preemptive ways of curbing the activities of quacks in the industry and show more than a passing interest in the activities of state governments and their officials in the design and construction supervision of building structures.

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