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Professionals plan strategies to avert infrastructure collapse

By Victor Gbonegun
01 August 2022   |   4:04 am
Experts have advanced the need for professionalism in all stages of projects cycle from concept to planning, design, construction and maintenance for sustainability of infrastructure.

PHOTO: GEP

Experts have advanced the need for professionalism in all stages of projects cycle from concept to planning, design, construction and maintenance for sustainability of infrastructure.

They also charged built environment professionals to adhere to ethics when discharging their duties in the sector.

They spoke at the 2022 Dr. Tunde Olatunji Distinguished Yearly Lecture organised by the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers, Ikeja Branch in Lagos. The guest speaker, Mrs. Aramide Adeyoye, said the country has witnessed the collapse of new and existing infrastructure because we are lacking from point of design to periodic assessment and maintenance.

Adeyoye, who is the Special Adviser, Works and Infrastructure to Lagos State Governor, explained that it is instructive that Infrastructure must be sustained if it is to benefit coming generations and its provision must be seen as an investment that will pay off many times over in the future.

Infrastructure collapse occurs when the structure is no longer serviceable and unable to perform optimally the purpose for which the structure has been designed. The average yearly budgeted infrastructure spend is about 10 per cent of national requirement, with approximately $3 trillion required to close the infrastructure gap over the next 30 years.”

Adeyoye said measures needed by government and professionals include giving quality control and quality assurance high priority in execution of road projects, strict adherence to robust specifications that will also factor the habits and nuisances of the users.

Others, she said are: “Choice of contractors to handle critical infrastructure to ramp up integrity tests be it civil engineering or building projects, effective public – private sector collaboration in engaging ISO certified laboratories for necessary engineering tests from the start of the project to finish and ensuring a robust maintenance strategy.”

She said government and motoring public must embrace the need for tolling to provide the much-needed resources for all year infrastructure maintenance like the Lekki-Epe Expressway.

According to her, successive administrations must imbibe the fact that maintaining infrastructure though is without glamour is equally as important as providing new ones, adding that maintenance department of every government agency responsible for infrastructure must rise to the challenge and work collaboratively with other MDA’s in ensuring all year monitoring to avert failures that could occur before collapse takes place.

Adeyoye charged professional institutions in Nigeria to give more priority consideration to ethical discourse at technical sessions, public lectures and seminars

“NSE and other engineering bodies must take the bull by the horn to constantly expose their members to the state of the art maintenance strategies to avert infrastructure collapse. Advocacy for Professionals, contractors and government officials to exhibit hallmark of excellence through adherence to ethics, proffer viable legislation mechanism in Nigeria to deal with unethical practices and there is need to complement government efforts by beneficiaries and users to buy in and take full ownership of the provided infrastructure,” she said.

On the role of professionals in the prevention of building collapse, the immediate past President, the Nigerian Institute of Building, Kunle Awobodu, said collective efforts and collaboration are necessary tools that could help restore safety in the Nigerian built sector.

Awobodu said: “Pilfering and use of substandard materials are common sharp practices on some sites. Bill of Quantities (BOQ) prepared by the quantity surveyor would go a long way at revealing necessary inputs on which the client will have to spend money and thereby prevent substandard building construction. The BOQ indicates to a discerning client the quantity and specifications required for his project.”

“Placing orders for and buying the appropriate quantity and quality of items of materials is one of the steps towards achieving safe construction. Post construction management of building is crucial. Lack of maintenance, improper use of building, change of building use and reckless conversion or expansion of building spaces by landlords, building owners should be rejected by the estate surveyors and valuers in order to sustain the original function for which the building was designed and built.”

Awobodu said a system that abhors slum growth and discourages haphazard development of buildings will record low hazard and improved safety measures.

He emphasised that those who received education, training and license to manage production of buildings on site should be allowed to play their primary role in building projects to lessen the risk of building failure.