Wasiu Akeusola is the former National Treasurer and former Lagos State Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), presently he is the General Secretary, Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), Lagos State Chapter. In this interview with Senior Correspondent, Dada Jackson, he lamented the continuous decay of infrastructure in the country and inability of the present administration to achieve any tangible results in the last three years in the area of infrastructural development.
What is your opinion on the cause of over costing and inflation in the government's construction projects?
It is due to corruption and it is not only in the construction sector that we have this menace in Nigeria. As a matter of fact 99 percent of road projects awarded in this country did not involve Quantity Surveyors where as one of the responsibilities of Quantity Surveyors is project costing and valuation. And the reason is that the engineers will say they don't want Quantity Surveyors to be involved and this is a great mistake.
And this is because it is government's contract, if it is private contract there is no way the owner of the contract will not involve Quantity Surveyors, if you see all these private owned Estates if the Engineers want to do the costing of the road within the Estate and say it will cost 1 billion Naira and Quantity Surveyors says the same road will cost 300 million Naira, definitely there is no way the owner of the project will align with the Engineer that said it will cost 1 billion naira.
And that is the difference between government and private contract, in terms of government, the officials will prefer to award the contract to one who said it will cost 1 billion naira and the reason is that the higher the cost, the higher the kick back they will receive.
If government involved Quantity Surveyors on most of these roads being constructed, the cost would have been cheaper because Quantity Surveyors would advise them in a cheaper way, in Ghana the head of their Ministry of Highways is a Quantity Surveyor and when you look at the way they cost most of their construction projects especially roads it is very cheaper compare to that of Nigeria.
In a modern day like this, you can never see anyone that would say he has the overall knowledge of everything, you cannot conceptualize, design, award and monitor the cost by one Engineer, in a normal situation it is not the person that conceptualize that will design, and not the person that design that will cost, the person that cost is not suppose to be the person that will monitor or approve, everyone has his or her own duty in the ideal situation.
But when it comes to the construction of road here in Nigeria, the engineer will say they are to design, cost, monitor and approve, so definitely if there is a problem the person that caused the problem will be the person that will be called upon to rectify it, there is no checks and balances and that is why we are having problem in costing especially in the area of infrastructural facility.
But there is this submission from engineers that if it is building, the Quantity Surveyors can know the actual cost but talking of roads there are unexpected things that may occur during the construction which Quantity Surveyors will not be able to include in their costing?
The only thing that you cannot be too sure of in road construction is the soil structure, that is what you will see below the soil and definitely when you have some soil test in various areas, you will definitely know the soil structure and the type of materials to be used.
Even in this modern day there is something called contingency, when we are costing building or other construction we put contingency in it which serves as unforeseen event during the execution of the project. If there is under costing or other things come up, it is this contingency that will take care of such occurrence.
Their claim that they don't know what they might meet during the construction of roads is not true, why are they putting contingency on it, it is to take care of unforeseen event during the construction.
CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK