Planners deplore non-adherence to ethics
Professional town planners have recommend sanctions for members who have violated ethical values either due to negligence, sentiments or naivety.They urged Nigerian Institute of Town planners (NITP) and Town Planners Registration Council (TOPREC) to up their games in ensuring that erring members are disciplined to serve as deterrents to others.
NITP president, Mr. Lekwa Ezutah made the declaration at the annual workshop organized by the Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON) on professional development in Lagos.He lamented that the committee on professional ethics and discipline has been the idlest committee of the institute. This, he argued, must stop, as the association can no longer condone the syndrome of barking without biting.
Ezutah maintained that TOPREC need to review the format for admitting planners into the professional cadre while examinations must be more on the knowledge and practice of ethics rather than academic materials. He said the knowledge and compliance with ethical standards is the currency for shopping in the image market and adherence to code of conduct will make any professional to stand out adding that without it, practice has neither value nor direction.
“Erring practitioners must be brought to book, unlike the present practice. As for NITP, we shall endeavor to collaborate with relevant agencies of government to accord the profession the requisite recognition, appropriate designation and relevant salary scales as it is being done for other professional groups in the built environment. Planning educators or Planners in academics should give sufficient time to their students to teach them well. The practice of sending lecture notes (Handouts) to students without appearing to lecture, as at when due is a form of malpractice, which should attract appropriate sanctions. This is because the peculiarity of teaching planning is more by impartation than telling its stories”.
He suggested that lecturers should regularly attend professional development programmes put together by the professional body to keep abreast with current challenges and best practices and internship of planning educators should be re-enacted and enforced to the extent that each lecturer must attend internship programme of not less than three months during vacation at least once in five years. Students must attend the mandatory internship programme of Students’ Industrial Work Experience (SIWES) while at school; and must be done under competent trainers. Government and even private developers must engage consultants in preparing their development plans. There should be a clear separation of duties between practitioners in public service and those in private practice”, he said.
President of Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON), Dr. Idris Salako remarked that today’s planners suffer from a lingering unclear and conflicting public image that cultivates confusion and perhaps mistrust. Consequently, he noted that morale within the profession is low hence, an appraisal of existing practice issues in the country and professional relationships, obligations as practitioners both to fellows and the planning profession and the public perception of the practice.
Salako said some of the complaints and reported experiences of members include, deliberate road blocks to frustrate applications, contacting clients ‘behind the back’ of the consultant, casting doubts in the minds of the client as to the competence of the consultant, hijacking submissions and plagiarism.He said, “Common ethical infringements by town planning practitioners in the Country, carrying out unlawful Instructions, under cutting-Many of our professional colleagues obey this rule more in the breach in an attempt to corner more jobs. They rely on turnover to the detriment of quality. Sub-standard jobs. Subverting the use of the TOPREC’s stamp and resorted to buying from neighbouring states, even very senior practitioners do this, civil and public servants engaging in private practice, withholding information or documents, supplanting and discrediting colleagues and non-participation in NITP/TOPREC Activities among others”.
Speaking on “Town planning services; perception and relationship-the dilemma of practitioners”, a former commissioner for Lands in Lagos State, Mr. Fola Arthur- Worrey noted that the general, often ill-informed, perception of town planners in Lagos and other Nigerian cities, apart from Abuja, and their impact on city planning is a negative one.
“You hear comments like: “The city is unplanned”, “I don’t know what these planning people are doing”.
He explained that there is also a need for the authorities to be more active in addressing planning violations. The reluctance of them to act in many cases, he observed, is dispiriting and encourages the perception that things are exchanging hands under the table or that politics and favouritism is trumping due governance.
For a former commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban development in Lagos State, Mr. Olutoyin Ayinde, to leave an indelible mark in the profession, as well as, a legacy for younger generations, character, competence, capability, capacity and courage he said are vital to moral uprightness while character and courage play a major role in making a difference.
“You may be a brilliant professional or a highly skilled Urban Planner, but if you’re unprofessional and unethical in your dealings, your career is likely to fall short “, he stated.