Quantity Surveyors’ Knowledge Of Engineering Components Is Limited – Owivry | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Quantity Surveyors’ Knowledge Of Engineering Components Is Limited – Owivry

Posted: Oct 6, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Engineer Robbie James Owivry, is the National Chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Civil Engineers (NICE) and Managing Director of Famous Construction Company Limited. He has over 20 years of resourceful engineering expertise, and a proven versatility in various practical structural designs, field construction/supervision and project appraisal. In this interview with NKASIOBI OLUIKPE, he touched on some salient infrastructural issues, but especially, on the Quantity Surveyors much incensed Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME). Excerpts:

Why are the engineers shortchanging the quantity surveyors Bill of Quantity with their Bill of Engineering Measurement and Evaluation (BEME)?

I do not agree with you. No one is shortchanging anyone. The knowledge of the quantity surveyor to engineering components which constitute elemental quantities of a bill is limited. As such, it will be inadequate to ask a quantity surveyor to quote for items whose dynamics he is not acquainted with. The BEME takes proper care of all engineering quotations.

This is being condemned as fraudulent in many quarters, especially by the quantity surveyors, as they complain it is responsible for the much decried high cost of infrastructural projects in Nigeria, since the contractor ends up being the cost engineer. Objectively speaking, do you share a contrary view to this?

It is erroneous to assume that the legitimate exercise of an engineer’s professional practice is fraudulent and attributing the increased cost of infrastructure to the engineer’s involvement in the preparation of bills, is a sheer display of ignorance. On the contrary, the engineer ensures due diligence in the elemental composition of his evaluations which finally generates the bill. We must appreciate the fact that engineering is about precision and accuracy hence making rooms for undue wastage in the engineering bills is an unwelcomed development. So how does a profession which does not accommodate wastage encourage increase in cost?

Is the local content law beginning to work now, considering that members of the built environment have always decried non-inclusion in major contracts, especially by government and its agencies?

To decree a law is one thing; implementing it is another thing. Government and its agencies are the ones who can make the local content law work, if personal interest is divorced from contract awards. In some cases where contract values are inflated, the fear of being exposed by indigenous contractors leads to their exclusion from such contracts.

Many have attributed the failure of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) project to government’s insincerity in fulfilling their own part of the bargain. Why in your view do you think government is not honouring the PPP contract agreement of providing infrastructures for developers?

Numerous factors can be adduced to this. Inadequate preparations, distorted views of the partnership at its inception, new events overtaking the relevance of the proposed outcome of the partnership, change of government and lack of funds are some of the factors that can influence government involvement in PPP.

How do you reconcile the N973million 2014 profit declaration of the Infrastructure Bank with complaints in the built environment that the bank is not serving the purpose for which it was established?

The Infrastructure Bank might have overlooked its oversight function of financing infrastructural development hence the deficiency in meeting up with the needs of infrastructure developers. Another angle to look at it could be to demand for stringent pre – qualification conditions which may turn off developers from seeking financial supports from the Bank.

Why are people having problems accessing a single digit infrastructure loan in Nigeria and what is its implication on infrastructural development in the country?

The conditions attached to such loans and repayment plans are usually unfavourable . This is bound to have set backs in the pace of infrastructural development. Infrastructural developments are capital intensive ventures. Without adequate funding, most of the infrastructure will lie fallow.

Any possibility of bridging the infrastructure gap, considering the whopping amount ($35 billion) needed annually to do so?

A thousand miles’ journey starts with a footstep. A look at the enormous financial resources involved in infrastructural development can be intimidating but starting from somewhere and maintaining a regular tempo will improve the situation over time and gradually, the gap will begin to close up.

The last administration attributed the non-release of capital funds for development, vis-a-vis indebtedness to contractors, to the dwindling oil price. How do you think this present administration can tackle this problem to help the contractors?

Lack of fund is a major impediment to infrastructural development. A more serious approach to the Public Private Partnership project can ease the burden of financial crunch from government.  Another relieving measure will be prioritizing what development to embark on, instead of attempting to do so many things at the same time and finally, ensuring that corruption is kept at bay in the process of awarding the contracts.

How is NICE relating with the present administration vis-a- vis infrastructural development?

Early days yet! You know the new administration is still trying to settle down but that notwithstanding, we are always prepared to contribute our quota towards the infrastructural development of our Country. Quite a number of well researched ideas are in the kitty. We will contact the necessary quarters to impart our ideas to the society. We have a robust data base of civil engineers, the best in the Country , with specialized knowledge , experience and skills .We are ready to partner with government by offering professional advice in the areas of Capacity Building through technical training programmes and recommendation of  resourceful personalities for appointments into government offices. In a few weeks’ time we shall have the International Civil Engineering Conference in Ilorin between 28th and 30th of October 2015. This year’s theme is, “National Development Strategies Toward Sustainable Civil Infrastructure” . The conference which is a rallying point for all Civil Engineers in Nigeria, will harness highly researched intellectual works through which a communiqué will be generated to address the sustainability of civil engineering in Nigeria.