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‘Implementation of EODB, contract sanctity key to construction sector growth’

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The Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Musa Yusuf

Stakeholders in the construction industry and members of the Organised Private Sector (OPS) have raised concerns about the implementation of ease of doing business policy as well as the need for the sanctity of contract in a bid to engender economic growth.

According to them, the construction sector is key to the economy in terms of job creation, infrastructure development facilitation and supporting industrialisation.

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They equally cited the need for the industry to reform and transform itself for efficiency, noting that the conservative nature of the industry due to adherence to safety might be slowing down growth, innovation and adoption of digital technologies, as well as capacity to exploit opportunities.

Speaking during a webinar organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) themed “Opportunities in construction and engineering industry. The private sector perspective”, the Chamber’s President, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, emphasised the need for stakeholders and operators to explore opportunities created by housing and infrastructure deficit in the country.

Mabogunje, who was represented by the Vice President and Chairman of, Science and Technology Committee of the LCCI, Leye Kupoluyi, stated that there are lots of opportunities for the private sector. Nigeria has one of the housing deficits in the SSA.

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Chairman, Construction and Engineering Group, LCCI, Funmi Banjoko, noted that with most of the infrastructure already decayed, the challenges offer new opportunities for the private sector, saying “we hope to see our engineering and construction firms repeat the feat done by the banking industry in the sub-Saharan Africa region.”

President of Federation Of Construction Industry (FOCI), Nasiru Dantata, identified manpower, money, materials and machinery as key factors influencing the construction industry.

The housing deficit in the country is a reflection of the mismatch in the country, as many houses being built do not have the right persons filling them.

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“Despite COVID, many houses are being built and sold. The boom has led to shortages in the commodities needed for construction. Construction raw materials have witnessed significant inflation due to supply gaps.

“The issue of manpower is due to lack of trained personnel. As a group, we chose to embark on training personnel. The industry has had to depend on neighbouring countries for skills. The industry has too many engineers but not enough artisans to execute the jobs.

“In terms of financing, the industry has evolved and has been able to see significant access to finance, especially in the area of infrastructure financing,” he added.

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Dantata, however, stated that the industry needs a better-formulated construction contract, noting that many contractors suffer at the hands of the government and private sector when it comes to paying for services rendered.

“Confidence in contracts will aid investment in the industry. Outsourcing is also being embraced in the industry among players and this has helped to bridge the gap between big and small players”, he said.

Babafemi Onashile of Consol Associates stated that the construction industry is the best barometer for gauging economic growth, noting that the private sector needs to start looking at the value-chain and explore opportunities therein.

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“Contractors should embrace public-private partnership initiatives to maximise opportunities. The supply of specialised services can equally not be ignored, especially at a time when there is a dearth of skills in the industry, especially among artisans.

“Governments do not honour payments and this has affected the growth of the industry. Sanctity of the contract is key. Special arbitration channels should be created for key intervention in the construction sector”, he said.

Olusegun Ladega of Interstate Architects Limited reiterated the need for the ease of doing business to be implemented in driving growth in the construction industry, especially as it relates to the issue of permits, the sanctity of contracts among others.

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