By Chris Ochayi
THE Registrar, Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria, QSRBN, Mr. Godson Moneke, has advocated establishment of a national construction cost data base as part of measures to check corruption in construction industry.
Moneke who made the call at the opening ceremony of the board’s 2017 national project cost reduction summit, with theme; ‘ Fighting corruption through proper project costing in Nigeria’ held in Abuja at the weekend, said the summit was aimed at bringing some sanity into infrastructure construction sector of the economy.
He added that as quantity surveyors who are experts in ensuring financial probity and the achievement of value-for-money in the conceptualisation, planning and execution of construction projects, the organisation is disturbed not only because the country is being ripped-off, but also concerned over the magnitude of the harm being done to the nation’s common wealth.
According to him, “Our hearts bleed for Nigeria when we watch with amazement, as monies which could achieve three units of projects, would achieve only one, while the rest is shamelessly diverted for fraudulent appropriation. To stem these anomalies, QSRBN is in the fore front of advocating the establishment of costing templates, for all categories of construction projects across Nigeria”.
The Registrar noted that such templates should create a cost bands/ ranges for roads, bridges, railways, public buildings, housing projects among others, adding that the templates should also show central tendencies, variations and dispersions across geopolitical zones, environmental and geological zones.
He decried the fact that costs of construction projects in Nigeria are rated among the highest in the world, wondering why Nigeria should pay more for construction projects and services than countries like the United States, United Kingdom, China and other developed nations of the world.
In his remarks, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing Mr. Babatunde Fashola noted that one of the root causes of high cost of projects in this sector is corruption in the form of deliberate inflation of project cost to satisfy pecuniary interests.
The minister, who was represented by the Director of Building and Infrastructure in the ministry, Sanni Gidado, an architect, regretted that the unwholesome practice has far reaching negative consequences on national development and the economic well being of the citizenry.
According to the minister, the problem of high costs of projects in the construction sector can be tackled through systematic approach of ensuring a regime of proper project costing.
“Within this institutional strengthening, fighting corruption in Nigeria through proper project costing will become more meaningful. The Ministry will continue to collaborate with the QSRBN, the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS?) and other stakeholders in the construction industry with a view to establishing a reliable cost database that will ensure realistic costing of buildings, roads, bridges and other civil engineering projects across the nation’s geopolitical zones”, Fashola stated.
on Anti- Corruption, Professor Itsay Sagay, who was also the Guest of Honour at the occasion, noted that the QSRBN should be commended for conceiving and executing the summit on ‘fighting corruption through proper project-costing in Nigeria’.
Sagay, who was represented by a Professor of Criminology, Femi Odekunle, however, advised QSRBN management to consider, in the pursuit of the objectives of the summit, that the problem ?is not the capability of QS to do proper costing as they are trained to do so.
He noted however that that a national cost depository/ construction database may be contentious in view of Nigeria’s heavy reliance on imported materials and vagaries of the forex market.
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