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Why FG is prioritising maintenance of public infrastructure — Fashola

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As QSRBN fears effect of emerging technology on profession

By Chris Ochayi         

The Federal Government last week, declared that it will give priority to the maintenance of public infrastructure so that the nation can derive maximum value from them.

The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who made the declaration during the 2019 Annual Assembly of Registered Quantity Surveyors  and induction of newly registered quantity surveyors and practising firms in Abuja,  said the quest would stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

Fashola, who reiterated the commitment of the present administration towards provision of infrastructure, added: “There is so much that government wants to provide for the nation in the area of infrastructure with limited funds.

Fashola

“With the emphasis placed on investment in infrastructure under the Economic Recovery & Growth Plan of the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari, Registered Quantity Surveyors are a highly relevant group of professionals with their unique training as cost experts in the construction industry.

“More so, given the fact that there is so much that government wants to provide for the nation in the area of infrastructure with limited funds, competent quantity surveyors are, therefore, needed to ensure that projects are executed at minimal costs. Alongside accelerated delivery of new infrastructure, the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has identified the maintenance of infrastructure as of equal priority.

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“It is our belief that improved maintenance of our public buildings, roads and other infrastructure will enable government derive maximum value from these facilities, deliver improved public quality services, stimulate economic growth, create jobs and generally improve the quality of life of its citizens.

“It is for this reason that the Ministry developed the National Public Buildings Maintenance Policy which received the approval of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, about a month ago. While this policy is focused on public buildings by the Federal Government, it is easily adaptable to other infrastructure at all levels of government that are also faced with public assets maintenance deficiencies.

“The Quantity Surveyors  Registration Board of Nigeria, QSRBN, is one of the relevant stakeholders to which an invitation was extended for the review of the draft Policy before it was presented for FEC approval. The challenges associated with the provision, renewal and replacement of critical public infrastructure assets in Nigeria require the involvement of construction industry professionals, especially registered quantity surveyors.

“The high cost of construction projects requires the skills and knowledge of quantity surveyors in addressing resource optimisation and value maximisation. I heartily congratulate the new inductees but with a note of caution that the status you are attaining today bestows on you a responsibility for probity and professionalism as you are expected to maintain high standards devoid of compromise and fraudulent activities as you practise the profession,” Fashola advised.

In his opening address, the President, QSRBN, Murtala Aliyu, warned that evolution of technology might affect the practise of the profession in the nearest future, adding that:  “Technology and know-how are extending the frontiers further. Automation and Robotics are playing significant roles and have had different effects on various skills, both positive and negative.

“All skills that involve processes can be automated and are therefore threatened. These will definitely affect our present jobs and future employment possibilities. The emerging situation will affect our training patterns and course curriculum and contents which will in turn affect how we channel resources to manage these changes in our schools, offices and industries. The world and the industry are changing fast.

“Professions in this country are still enslaved by laws and regulations. Over-regulation narrows the space and unfortunately, our perspectives. At every point in time, one profession is hounding another trying to create a larger space for itself within a small cubicle. Instead of collaboration, we waste a lot of energy in displacing one another or at least trying to do so. The crisis of relevance among professions is increasing while the nature of the market and human needs are changing at uncomfortable rates.

“Professions, especially those in the built environment either open up, modernise, adapt to changes and prepare for the future or gradually slide into irrelevance or something else will replace us. We need to keep tracking the industry, the market and human demand to remain in business. Let us think please.”

The former Minister of Power and Steel added: “Every profession evolves from one trade/skill or another, giving birth to branches or other sister professions. Our profession also evolved from being an appendage to Architects and Engineers to a leader in the industry.

“Quantity Surveyors have proven to be fair and balanced in their relation with other professionals. In Nigeria, the Quantity Surveying profession has had brilliant minds that have affected professional practices and the industry positively and monumentally.

“How long we continue to be the pacesetters will depend on how much we realise these challenges and how fast we act.

“Are we preparing to sustain the lead or are we faltering under some minor encroachments, intimidation, and dislocation?

“Numbers matter, but what matters most is the ability of a people to keep thinking and acting positively.”

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