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Professionals jostle for burnt assets restoration, upgrading jobs

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Igbosere court in central Lagos

Expectations were high at the weekend as professionals submitted proposals for the consultancy services for architectural, engineering and quantity surveying for rebuilding of key burnt facilities in Lagos.

The call for proposal was by Rebuild Lagos Committee, an entity empowered aftermath of the protest in October 2020 and re-configured into a corporate Public Private Partnership (PPP) – Rebuild Lagos Trust Fund (RLTF), which is private sector driven.

Essentially, the fund promoted by Lagos State Government is charged with rehabilitation, reconstruction and expansion of critical infrastructure and other public assets damaged, lost or destroyed during the disturbances.

The committee, comprises 10 people, eight of which are from the private sector. The composition of the committee speaks volumes to its independence and the way and manner it is expected to function.

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The damaged public assets listed for reconstruction through the fund are, lgbosere High Court, Oyingbo Bus Terminal, Fire station in lkotun, Apapa lganmu Council Secretariat, Lagos City Hall, Lagos Forensic Centre, Primary Health Centre at Adeniji Adele Road and the Elemoro palace.

Already, the authorities have called for an expression of interest to procure the services of professionals for the restoration and upgrading of the destroyed assets.

Findings revealed that the scope of services centres on appraisal of the assets damaged or destroyed during the disturbances as they relate to the restoration and upgrading project, evaluation of the needed scope of work to restore and upgrade each of the assets in line with the directives of the fund.

Other works are preparation of architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical services drawings, including all necessary calculations and submitting same to the fund for approval as well as preparation of cost estimation for the restoration and upgrading project such as bills of quantities and all tender documents and estimated timelines for both the pre-contract and post-contract phases.

Speaking on the development, the first Vice President, Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Mr. Enyi Ben-Eboh, said the rebuilding effort would create jobs for the professionals “because COVID-19 has really impacted the economy.”

According to him, it is the infrastructure sector that had suffered most as people focus more on survival strategies without going into housing construction.

“ It is not a sizeable chunk of work that would cause any sort dramatic improvement in the lot of professionals.

“Yes, those facilities must be restored. The High Court in Igbosere for instance, is not only a High Court but also a historic building and monument. You need the right crops of professionals for the reconstruction,” he said.

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A past chairman, Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Olujide Oke, who lauded the government’s move, said “it is the professionals’ belief that those properties shouldn’t be left unattended to because it would be a sad reminder of the unfortunate incident.”

According to him, while the government was looking at public properties, there should also be some succour for private property owners and not politicians whose structures were impacted.

“Professionals would be glad to see those properties brought back to life. The only thing that we aren’t clear about is whether the rebuild Lagos trust fund is for public buildings alone or for private ones because the effect of the unrest was not just on government properties.

“Many other private properties were destroyed in the process and so how do we take care of that. A lot of malls, event centres and others belonging to private individuals were damaged.”

The professionals, he stated, would be glad to be involved if the government was extending to them, so that it would not be solely for politicians and government employees. To him, the involvement of professionals will help in cushioning the current inflationary trend and recession that everyone was going through.

Oke said, “Since COVID-19 lock down and recession, the industry has been slow in picking up but the government could help because everybody is going through some kind of recession in almost all the service industry. Government can help to make the service industry better because the construction industry can help to revive the economy.

“If they concentrate on the construction sector, it will trickle down to the consultancy sector and other segments. During the Abacha era, that was when the Petroleum Trust Fund projects were introduced and a lot of professionals and consultants were involved. Right now revolves around politicians.”

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He advised that public procurement departments of government agencies must be allowed to function independently to allow capable professionals play a role in the tender process.

The chairman, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Apapa branch, Mr. Christian Ufot, lamented that the amount government would be spending on rebuilding the damaged public assets would have been used to deliver new projects.

He noted that the buildings was done by professionals and rebuilding would still be done by the same set of service providers, hence, it’s not really exciting and not a sign of moving forward.

“Whatever the government does now to ameliorate suffering of the people is, however, welcome. For those who are going to respond to the tender, the government must ensure that there is great deal of transparency,” he said.

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