By Jude Njoku
HAVE you ever wondered why abandoned and uncompleted projects dot the nation’s landscape? The Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, NIQS, Mr. Olayemi Shonubi seems to have an answer to why this scourge is on the increase, especially in Nigeria’s urban centres.
Shonubi told Vanguard Homes & Environment that the principal reason behind the avalanche of abandoned and uncompleted projects is non-utilisation of the services of construction cost experts from the conceptualization through to the execution of such projects.
The Lagos State NIQS boss who stated that most projects are abandoned due to a mismatch between the available funds and what the consultants have designed, maintained that the use of Quantity Surveyors in both buildings and heavy/civil engineering projects, would reduce cost overruns that ultimately lead to the abandonment of projects.
“When you go round various parts of Nigeria, you will see signboards standing with skeletal works like excavation and then the site is abandoned. But I believe strongly that if Quantity Surveyors were used, all that would not not be. You (Client) would have been well advised on how to manage the funds you have and know whether you can embark upon the project and if you don’t have enough funds, you know whether to scale down the magnitude of the project or look for more funds or not start the project at all until you are ready.
“Whichever way you look at it, it is obvious that Quantity Surveyors are underutilized both from the perspective of the developers and the financiers because you see projects done but very high over and above the initial cost because Quantity Surveyors are not involved or consulted’.
Elimination of cost over runs
Continuing, Mr. Shonubi explained that although the use of Quantity Surveyors in construction projects will not totally eliminate cost overruns, he insisted that it would reduce it to a large extent.
Another factor adduced by the cost expert for the rising occurrence of abandoned/uncompleted projects, is policy somersault on the part of the government. Noting that government should be a continuum, Mr. Shonubi regretted that this is not the case with politicians in Nigeria’s political landscape. He decried the habit of abandoning projects simply because the newly elected officials do not want their predecessors to take the credit.
The construction cost expert advised those embarking on new projects not to follow the maxim, ‘cut your coat according to your size’ but rather to cut their coat according to the material available. He further advised clients to always design what they have the funds to build..
Responding to allegations that people don’t patronise Quantity Surveyors because they collude with contractors to inflate costs in a bid to defraud the clients, the Lagos State NIQS boss said: ‘To the best of my knowledge, sometimes people give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. That, I think, is a fallacy that has been spread around by people who don’t want Quantity Surveyors to be involved in any project they are handling, principally because they know that if a Quantity Surveyor is in a project, all their own shenanigans would be exposed and in order to prevent that from happening, they try as much as possible to poison the minds of would-be clients that this is what quantity surveyors do’.
He commended the Lagos State Government for employing and making use of in-house Quantity Surveyors in its projects, but noted that these in-house surveyors are usually overworked.
‘When you look at the quantum of projects being undertaken by Lagos State, you want to ask whether the manpower they have is adequate to actually superintend over these projects. I am aware that our members are being tasked, (I don’t want to use the word, ‘overworked’) but there is a limit to which you can advise the government if you are in their employment,’ he said.