By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
President, Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers, ( NISRUCTE) Mr Eddy Atumonyogo on Monday said Federal Government is exposing structural engineers in Nigeria into ridicule before foreigners with the handling of the ongoing nationwide multi billion naira rail projects by foreign experts
Mr Atumonyogo stated this in Ibadan while speaking at a press conference on the 2019 Pre-Conference of the NISTRUCTE with the theme “Structural Engineering in Nigeria-Past, Present and Prospects” billed for this Tuesday 22nd to Wednesday 23rd at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
According to him, the practice by the Federal Government in addition to exposing structural engineers to ridicule before their foreign colleagues is not in the best interest of the country as the foreign Engineers have allegedly been engaging in capital flight of the nation’s meagre resources.
He pointed out that there was nothing stopping the Federal Government from considering the opportunities for the transfer of skills and knowledge to local engineers and practices on the ground while negotiating such massive rail projects across the country.
“In the ’70s and 80s, engineers are carried along in whatever is 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 percent of our members and as a massive rail project that is going on from Badagry all the way CMS, none of our members is involved.”, he said.
The NISTRUTE President added, “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.”
“So, no experience gained and no economic benefit to the local professional practices. These are some of the things we are talking about. When you are negotiating such massive contract, you should factor in the transfer of skills and knowledge to local engineers and practices on ground, so that when the Chinese finishes building and go, there will be people who can replicate such feat and maintain what has been built, that is what we are talking about and it is not happening in this country. And we need to see more of such. The rail projects are going on and we don’t know about it, that is not good enough.”
Speaking on the issue of collapse structures in the country, the NISTRUCTE President said, the body “have been engaging the government because before now, there is no regulation on the practices of structural engineering in Nigeria, so you have all sorts of people designing structures”, saying, “the builders design structures, some civil engineers who are not biased structurally design structures and all the things 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 approvals.”
“So, we have 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 result has been the incessant collapse of structures all over the nation.Recently, we engaged COREN and they have asked us to go and draft a regulation for the practice of structural engineering in Nigeria, which we have concluded and when that regulation is passed into law ad signed by COREN, there will be a bit of sanity in the issue of design of structures because there will be a of differentiation between structural engineers who will be allowed to design certain levels of structures and if any structure is not designed by 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.”