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Planners tasked on skills development for project procurement

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The President, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Niyi, (ATOPCON), Niyi Odetoye


To enhance capabilities of practitioners, the Town Planners Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON) has implored members to equip themselves with relevant skills in project procurement across the country.

The President, ATOPCON, Niyi Odetoye, who gave the charge during the association’s two-day professional development workshop and induction of six firms in Lagos, said the major challenge that planning consultants faced was the lack of clear understanding of what project procurement was about.

He stated that practitioners can’t have sustainable practice without being involved in projects, stressing that most planners complain about lack of jobs, whereas there are thousands of opportunities been churn out but, absence of requisite knowledge in the process has prevented practitioners from participating.

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According to him, there was need to empower consultants on what needs to be done to have access to various projects. Odetoye said, “Competitive project bidding process involves documentations, expertise and administrative procedures. If you don’t have a clear understanding of that even with professional qualifications, you can’t get involve in projects.

“By virtue of Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and if you have certain documentations that enables you access certain level of projects or getting involved in multi-million naira projects, there is a level of training and documentation, you must have been involved in. The truth about urban planning is that it is only people that understands local planning practice that should apply.”

He urged practitioners to develop the practice in such a way that they would be able to compete favourably with foreign organisations rather that foreign firms picking the projects and collboarting with indigenous planners as sub-contractors.

On fees charged for expression of interest, he noted: “When you ask someone to apply for expression of interest, which do not guarantee that every body will qualify, asking for financial contribution is not ideal. We are looking at that and educating members on the use of softwares for plan generations, imagery acquisition, terrain mappings and data capturing, which is the basis of urban planning.”

The president, Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Olutoyin Ayinde, observed that many town planners are not familiar with procurement processes, adding that the forum is an opportunity to learn more and ensure due diligence.

Ayinde sought an end to exploitation of practitioners. he described it as immoral, a situation whereby some agency makes money from Expression of Interests (EOIs).

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“There is need to look at procurement both from the angle of ‘offeror’ and ‘offeree’, we have seen EOIs that are obviously targeted at generating revenue. Project procurement and town planning consultancy is a subject we need to dissect, investigate and develop workable options and processes to make the practice more result oriented and a vibrant,” he said.

Speaking at the forum, the Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako, expressed concern about the situation, whereby members of the profession indicate interest and bid for notable consultancy services, even locally without much success, describing it as worrisome.

Salako said ATOPCON must be determined to muster all necessary resources and ensure that members are able to contribute professional expertise to sustainable development, geographical spaces as exemplified by developmental projects and programmes.

“We must seize this opportunity to better our competitive advantage in the professional spectrum with other professionals of allied fields”, he said.

On his part, the President, Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria (TOPREC), Isyaku Kura, represented by Moses Ogunleye, urged participants to share best practices in procurement consultancy in town planning while taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of members in view of global best practices in an emerging economy. He charged the forum to come up with recommendations that would improve efficiency and transparency of project procurement.

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ATOPCONNiyi Odetoye
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