FG warns vice-chancellors, others against construction of shoddy structures

• As new NIA President, Echono vows to tackle problem of building collapse

Federal Government has warned Vice-Chancellors of universities and other heads of tertiary institutions against the construction of shoddy structures and engagement of incompetent contractors to execute projects in the nation’s institutions.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono, speaking at his investiture as the new President of Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), said he was ashamed associating with some of the buildings on campuses of tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

Echono, however, said there has been a tremendous improvement in the quality of buildings across public tertiary institutions since he came on board as Permanent Secretary of the education ministry.

He also pledged to galvanise efforts towards tackling the problem of incessant building collapse in Nigeria.

He said: “Indeed my fist meeting with Vice-Chancellors, Provosts and Rectors of our Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education as well as their Governing Councils, just a few months I got into the Federal Ministry of Education, I made the point that the mere fact that I am here, and I am a trained architect, presupposes that going forward any structure we are going to put in any of our institutions must reflect the leadership, something I can relate with, something I can be proud of.

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“We sent the message out and we have been working with primary agencies involved in the provision of these infrastructures, National Universities Commission (NUC), the funding agencies, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), that the quality of our buildings must improve.

“We have also ensured that the procurement processes are such that will deliver competent contractors, who have competent and track record of performance and who have the capacity to execute those projects.

“I can confirm that there has been a very significant improvement in the quality of these buildings in the recent past.

“The ones we inherited, some of them I actually feel ashamed to associate myself with them,” he said.

He noted that it was a tremendous privilege to lead the body of architects in Nigeria for two years, saying he would focus on projecting the important role architects play in society.

Echono noted the NIA under his watch would start from the basis not to allow the rural communities to fail before demolishing and doing repair work and wasting resources.

“If you look at the quality buildings being built around the country today, the average life-span is 20 to 30 years and no country can afford that kind of waste.

“A building is supposed to last at least 100 years and if it is properly designed and constructed using good materials, it will last a minimum of 500 years. We cannot continue to be replacing the buildings every 30 years.

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He noted that most of the cases of collapsed buildings were as a result of clients neglecting to hire professionals and engaging quacks in an attempt to cut corners or “they use poor contractors who carry on jobs they cannot handle”.

He said this, unfortunately, had led to collapsed of many buildings across the country, with attendant loss of lives and wast resources.

Echono, however, noted that all stakeholders in the building industry would begin to close ranks in order to address the problem.

He said efforts would be made to make the services of the architects available to every nook and cranny of Nigeria, particularly rural communities

“These are some of the areas that we feel that professional associations like NIA should make their services available, hold their members to a very high standard of performance and to eliminate all forms unsavoury practices, ruthless competition and undercutting of one another within the profession,” he said.

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