Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has raised an alarm, saying the present state of the nation’s infrastructure is a threat to public safety.
The president, Otis Anyaeji, who disclosed this in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at different fora, said latest surveys conducted by the Society had rated Nigeria’s public infrastructure at ‘E2,’ meaning a score of 2.08 out of 5. “This means that the present condition of our national infrastructure across all sectors is a threat to public safety,” Anyaeji said.
He said the study was based on input of materials and expertise into infrastructural facilities executed in Nigeria within the period under review.
Anyaeji, a fellow of both the Nigerian and African Societies of Engineering, said the NSE had tabled this finding to the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning and promised to continue to undertake this initiative on a biannual basis, independent of government funding.
The president talked about efforts in getting the relevant ministries to fast-track development, saying Ministry of Labour and Employment, as an industrial engineering ministry, should lead in structuring and manning industrial activities. “It is therefore the responsibility of the ministry to undertake inspection of factories, industrial facilities, including equipment such as pressure vessels, boilers, etc.”
He said the NSE was desirous of working in synergy with the ministry and that the NES was focused on persuading government to set up industries to produce or manufacture goods rather than import them. “The NSE wishes to partner with the Ministry in undertaking the issuance of periodical certificates to factories and industrial houses in respect of compliance with safety standards and regulations to ensure that a safe, healthy working environment is guaranteed for workers as well as institute good manufacturing practice,” he said.
The NSE boss revealed plans to set up some bureaux on Engineering Manpower Planning, Cost Indices/Infrastructural Scorecard, and Engineering Accreditation.
The NSE said many developing African countries should be in a position to finance infrastructural development wholly in spite of competing needs and financial constraints, if available public funds are judiciously, frugally and patriotically utilized, and private capital mobilised.
Giving options, Anyaeji said: “Financial tools that developed and most developing nations apply for developing and maintaining their infrastructure and industry ought to be applied by African countries without further delay. Such tools include: Policy-based finance created and controlled by the National Governments, made available on a revolving commercial basis to prioritized projects through Development Banks”.
He noted that Japan set aside about 50 percent of their general account (about 8% of GDP) in this regard to spur development.
He added: “Policy-based credit provided from funds generated from Central Bank’s skilful use of her discount rates; deposit money banks, funds mobilised from external borrowing, excess crude oil and other minerals earnings.”
He talked about strategic use of pension funds and called for the unbundling of the Nigerian Railways Corporation into small units of firms as was does done to the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).
Anyaeji declared thus: “With our array of experienced and accomplished professionals as well as a history of affiliations and collaborations with international counterparts, we are ready to make positive contributions that are capable of hastening the realisation of Nigeria’s developmental goals.
“This is based on the strong connection of the engineering profession to agricultural, infrastructural and industrial development activities and trends. We are optimistic that this is a move that could eventually deliver the turning point in the economic fortunes of our nation.”