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NIQS blames COVID-19, naira devaluation, others for contract variations

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
05 September 2022   |   4:00 am
Following new contract variations in the construction industry, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) has explained reasons contractors and consultants are filling contract claims in the country.

Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors members with technical session speakers at the workshop in Abuja

Following new contract variations in the construction industry, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) has explained reasons contractors and consultants are filling contract claims in the country.

NIQS President, Olayemi Shonubi, who spoke at a two-day workshop on “Construction Contract Claims: Evaluation, Presentation and Analysis,” organised by the institute in Abuja, blamed it on the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown measures adopted by the government in 2020, as well as the EndSARS Campaign, which practically paralysed the economy, leading to the shutdown of construction sites.

He said the Russian invasion of Ukraine situation, disruption in the supply chain logistics, crash in the value of Naira, increasing costs, shortages of construction materials have created challenges for the construction industry players – clients, consultants and contractors.

Shonubi said: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier in the year further exacerbated the global economic crisis leading to rising inflation, the worst experienced in the past 40 years (still counting) in some nations.

“The subsequent disruption in the supply chain logistics globally due to the fact that most factories, which were shut down during the government-imposed restrictions to prevent the spread of the COVID 19 virus, were just commencing production and could hardly meet the market demand thus leading to shortages in supply of the materials.

“These, coupled with crash in the value of Naira as a result scarcity of U.S. dollars for imports led to sharp increases in prices of the Construction materials. The increasing costs, as well as shortages of construction materials created delays in delivery and in some cases abandonment of projects leading to claims for extra payments by contractors; a big dilemma for consultants who are expected to evaluate same impartially and the clients who are expected to source for extra funds to settle the claims.”

He stated that the workshop would deepen skills and knowledge of its members, as well as other players in the industry in undertaking analysis and evaluation of claims in a scientific manner devoid of sentiments or bias.

MEANWHILE, The Deputy President, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Kene Nzekwe, has urged quantity surveyors to measure up with global best practices and standards for better service delivery.

Speaking on the side-lines of the workshop, Nzekwe, said: “Before now, we had carried out a survey amongst our members on the areas they would want us to upskill their capacity and this was one of the areas indicated interest.

“Everything has gone haywire, particularly with what is happening in Russia and Ukraine, prices all over the world have gone up, and including the dollar that we thought won’t depreciate.

“So, that also has a direct impact on the construction industry. And people who are players in the construction industry; the contractors, the clients need to upscale their capacity so that at the end of the day, anyone who suffers damage, can get some kind of compensation when all the issues are put on the table, and that is what this workshop is intended to achieve.”

A legal practitioner, Bukola Aluko-Olokun, who also doubles as a quantity surveyor, said there are different categories of claims, which most quantity surveyors are not aware of, nothing: “There are claims within the contract and outside the contract. It depends on where the benefit lies for a party.”

She said the workshop would assist participants to know how to locate clauses within the contract condition “because there are clauses that are very silent. They’re not even aware that they exist.

“A thorough understanding of these contract conditions will enable quantity surveyors to defend a contractor/consultant as appropriate, where it is possible and then be able to use these conditions as a weapon to stand firm within the industry.

“Some of our duties have been taken over by the engineers. We are supposed to administer these contracts. The contracts emanate from our offices, so we should have a thorough understanding of what it actually entails so that we can be able to interpret them when the time arises,” she added.