Mr Eddy Atumonyogo, the President, Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NISTRUCTE), on Monday, decried the non-inclusion of qualified local engineers in the ongoing nationwide multi-billion naira rail projects.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Atumonyogo rued the development while fielding questions from journalists at a press conference in Ibadan to herald the 2019 Conference of the NISTRUCTE.
The conference has the theme “Structural Engineering in Nigeria-Past, Present and Prospects” is scheduled to hold from Oct. 22 to Oct. 23 at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
He said such ugly development had further exposed structural engineers in the country to ridicule before their foreign colleagues engaged in a capital flight of the nation’s meagre resources.
According to the NISTRUCTE president, the Federal Government would have done better if it had considered the opportunities for the transfer of skills and knowledge to local engineers and practices while negotiating contracts for such massive rail projects across the country.
He said, “In the ’70s and 80s, engineers are carried along in whatever was going on in the country; and you and I know that that has not been the case since the late 90s till date.
“For instance, we have a rail project going on all over the country, Lagos has about seventy per cent of our members and it has a massive rail project that is going on from Badagry all the way to CMS, none of our members is involved.
“The Federal Government is undertaking some rail projects which also stretch from Lagos to Ibadan, from Abuja to Kano, from Lagos to Kano, they are all signed with the Chinese Company and contractors on a design-build basis and none of our members is involved also.
“So, no experience gained and no economic benefit to the local professional practitioners, these are some of the things we are talking about.’’
Speaking on the menace of collapsed structures across the country, the NISTRUCTE President said, the institution has been engaging the government on the issue of the collapse of the structure.
“Before now, there was no regulation on the practice of structural engineering in Nigeria, so you had all sorts of people designing structures.
“The builder’s design structures, some civil engineers, who are not biased structurally, design structures because all that they need to do is to go the local government and get the engineer that has a COREN seal and seal the drawing and calculations sheets and get approval.
“So, we had people who don’t have experience in structural engineering preparing structural drawings because in Nigerian we believe that we have been building for a long time and therefore anybody can design and anybody can build.
“And the result has been the incessant collapse of structures all over the nation.
“So, recently, we engaged COREN and they have asked us to go and draft regulation for the practice of structural engineering in Nigeria, which we have concluded.
‘’And when that regulation is passed into law and signed by COREN, there will be a bit of sanity in the issue of the design of structures.
“And if any structure is not designed by a structural engineer, it will be very clear to pick out such structures because it will not have approval.
“So, advocacy is what we can do and that is what we are doing. We don’t have any law or any empowerment by the law to go after people and all that,” Atumonyogo said.