Rivalry among professionals hobbles housing delivery efforts
Faced with over 17 million housing deficits and 108 million Nigerians estimated to be homeless, based on an average family of six people per housing unit, the country is in dire need of solutions to its huge housing needs.
Expectedly, professionals in the sector are looked up to, in mapping out strategies for mitigating shortfalls in the sector. However, the evolution of specialization in the industry has brought about inter-professional rivalry among the key players in the sector.
Regrettably, instead of prompting increased development, there has been concerns as to who does what and who is not trained to carry out a particular responsibility.
According to sector’s observers, intra-industry rivalry among the players has slowed down expected growth.
Currently, the seven recognised professional bodies in the built environment include, the Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Nigerian Institute of Building, Nigerian Society of Engineers, Nigerian Institution of Town Planners, the Nigerian Institute of Architects and the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors.
Overtime, there has been issues of overlapping of roles and responsibilities which require finding a common ground on such peculiar matters.
For instance, the Quantity Surveyor is a specialist in cost related matters as well as in feasibility studies and labour costs.
But engineers could also handle these jobs especially, when quantity surveying is seen as a branch of cost engineering and part of International Cost Engineering council. Another area of contention is on the issue of professional competence on plant, equipment and machinery (PEM) valuation. The profession duly recognized by law to carry out valuation of all assets and produce a value is estate surveying and valuation.
The scope of valuation includes, lands and buildings, furniture and fittings, office equipment, plant, equipment and machinery. The inclusion of the latter in the valuers scope of work is the causative factor of the feud.
President of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Mr. Rowland Abonta said members of the institution are the only professional body enabled by Nigerian law to practice valuation and put stamp and seal concerning the value of any kind of assets.
He said over many years ago, the engineers had threw up a challenge wanting to do valuation explaining that the challenge first came up in their attempt to do NEPA asset valuation but the matter was taken up to General Kontagora, who was then the minister of Works, Power and Housing.
He noted that the ministry had to seek the view of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) to confirm who has the professional capacity to carry out valuation.
“The RICS, then confirmed that it is the members of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers that are registered are the ones empowered to put value on any asset”, he said.
Abonta observed that the best engineers could do is to provide what is called, a technical report on ‘Plants and Equipment’ which would be interpreted and be made use of in arriving as to the value of assets.
Mr. Victor Adekunle Alonge, the Chairman of the Abuja branch of the Institute of Directors (IoD) and the chairman, Professional Practice Committee, Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON), supported Abonta’s position.
According to him, engineers cannot be valuers as they are not trained to be, estate surveyors and valuers will not be engineers, so engineers can never be valuers.
Alonge, who spoke recently with The Guardian, said as far as the law is concerned, the only profession entitled to actually put value on assets, whether engineering or power and marine assets is the estate surveyors and valuers.
According to him, the turf is wide enough for all of us to practice and collaborate. No profession can exist in isolation. We need to work together.
He said, “There is no absolute reason why engineers should continue to dissipate energy unnecessarily on this issue, rather they should start looking at how we can work together to optimize the value of our national assets for the benefit of the people”.
But the immediate past president of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Mr. Anyaeji Otis said the problem with NIESV has been on since early 2000.
He said: “ We have been having issues because they feel that engineers should not do valuation. But the law says otherwise. The law recognises engineers as valuers. If you go to Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) Section 137 it is there. Section 137 of the law describes professionals, who are valuers as accountants, surveyors, engineers and auditors.
If you also go to Engineers Act, the description of practice of engineers, valuation is also there. When we actually took the matter to Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), they eventually ruled that there is no exclusivity in terms of any of those professions mentioned in the law. That all of them have the right in those perspective specialised areas. So they felt not satisfied with that but that is not what we go by, we go by what the law says”, he added.
In a tacit acquiescence with Otis’ position, a former Chairman of the Apapa Branch of NSE, Dr. Ombugadu Garba noted, “As a professional Engineer, you know that an estate developer cannot value equipment. When you give an estate surveyor and valuer, an equipment to value, he might not be able to understand the real value of that equipment because he doesn’t have the required engineering knowledge.
On costing, Otis said when it comes to highways, railways, airports, refineries, sewage plants, electrical and plumbing works in the building, it is the engineers that estimate those costs.
“Even quantity surveyors are not even brought in properly even in their own areas when all these costs are determined. Economists just do what they have to do. The thing is that economist does not estimate projects cost, it is the engineer that estimates project cost and where buildings are concerned, and quantity surveyors are involved”, he said.
The Institute of Appraisers and Cost Engineers, he said, are to advise on the practices of engineering valuation, which has to do with estimating worth of property, roads, and others. They also have the mandate for cost engineering, which has to do with estimating new projects, new equipment and also doing project cost, planning and scheduling for such projects and engineering economy. Of course, appraiser means valuer”, he added.
Speaking on the issue, the Chairman, Lagos Chapter of NIQS, Ayuba Akere said efforts are being made to ensure that there is peace and harmony among professionals in the built environment.
According to him, all professionals are united under an umbrella called, the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN).
He said, “The main aim here is to have a common voice to tackle issues of national interest. That can only be achieved if there is harmony within professionals of different backgrounds. Acrimony can be seen if one professional group is trying to do the work of another group. Rather than looking for areas of conflict, what we should be clamouring for should be how to jointly face challenges that are of common interest to all professionals thereby ensuring that each professional group remains relevant and none goes into extinction”.
He stated that the core duties of each professional group are now available at almost next to nothing on online.
“A touch on relevant applications will give you desired results”, he added.