By Jude Njoku
“For which of you intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it. Lest after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him saying, this man began to build but was not able to finish”.
This biblical passage is being fulfilled in today’s Nigeria as the nation’s landscape is now dotted with a plethora of uncompleted or abandoned infrastructure as well commercial and residential housing projects.
In the housing sector, built environment experts who have begun to develop goose dimples over the the plethora of such uncompleted and abandoned projects, point to a number of factors as being responsible for this ugly development.
They include: the high cost of land, no thanks to the Land Use Decree of 1978 which was made a part of the 1979 and 1999 constitution, thus making its amendment rather difficult; the near absence of mortgage facilities, the high cost of labour and the outrageous prices of essential building materials.
The lack of proper cost advice, cost planning and cost control were also fingered as the major reason for the numerous uncompleted or abandoned infrastructure projects in the country.
Speaking to Vanguard Homes & Property on the issue, the Registrar of the Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria, QSRBN, Mr. Godson Moneke gave reasons for the numerous abandoned civil and heavy engineering projects in the country.
“Most projects in Nigeria are overestimated because proper cost advice is not sought, while proper cost control and proper cost planning are not observed,” he said, adding that the scenario is worse in public sector projects because of the absence of cash flow planning.
He noted that money meant for projects are not released as and when due and as a result, civil servants usually cashed in on this development to defraud the nation. Moneke who called for proper budgetary provisions and funds allocation to projects, explained that it would eliminate the present practice of allocating huge funds for administrative purposes.
The QSRBN Registrar also faulted the way civil and heavy engineering projects are executed in the country. According to him, it is only in Nigeria that there is total absence of cost planning for such projects. Describing this scenario as a big shame, Mr. Moneke noted that it is one of the major reasons for projects abandonment.
“Cost is a very critical and significant factor; you don’t embark upon any project if you don’t do proper cost analyses,” he said, but lamented that Quantity Surveyors who are cost experts, have been shoved aside in civil and heavy engineering projects.
“Because Quantity Surveyors are shoved aside on such projects, projects costs are over- bloated, while cost control and cost planning are undermined and everything goes haywire,” he said.
The former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, NIQS, noted that some people appointed to supervise projects execution are incompetent and ill-equipped to do the job. He decried the overbearing nature of political office holders, some of who see these projects as a means of siphoning public funds.
He called for the adoption of cost auditing in the construction process. “Contract and cost auditing are not part of the construction process. If we make cost auditing part of the process, it will make people to become more serious. Civil works and heavy engineering projects gulp a lot of money but cost audting is not part of the process, if cost auditing is made part of the process, it will keep people on their toes,” he said.
A former Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers, Engr Kunle Adebajo, agreed that lack of proper cost analyses is one of the key factors