A presentation at the ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL WOMEN ENGINEERS OF NIGERIA (APWEN) LAGOS CHAPTER PUBLIC LECTURE/AWARD
It’s a great privilege for me to stand before you today. I am delighted to see many of our esteemed professionals come to participate in this year event as we jointly examine THEME: Sustainability in Built Environment. I appreciate the support, the dedication and the commitment in taking out time from your busy schedule to be part of this event.
Indeed, our Annual Public Lecture is platform for our association to bring together experts in industry to explore the challenges facing our communities and contribute into policy making that make life easier for us and government in implementing the policy.
I would like to use the opportunity to thank our Guests of Honour today, the team who have dedicated time and effort to put this event together and also express appreciation to our sponsors for making this a reality. You all made everything easier for us.
As the world come to term with the effect of climate change and other issues affecting mankind, sustainability has become a crucial topic among professionals in built industry. From energy to designs, materials, and constructions, there has been increasing awareness of environmental impact of each process and this has led to the construction supply chain placing greater emphasis on being ‘green’; yet while ensuring the end products achieve the goal for which it was designed.
The built industry itself is significant because it anchors one of the traditional basis needs of man- Food, Shelter and Clothing. It dominates humanity’s impact on nature and it is the major contributor to climate change, resources depletion, waste, over consumption and others. Approaching sustainable future therefore must include making Built environment sustainable.
Nigeria, as with the rest of the world and a signatory to Paris Agreement, cannot be left behind in taking responsibility. This year, we have dedicated this year’s Public Lecture to address this. Our keynote speaker will do justice to this. However, I want to share a little experience what inspired today’s theme.
As a Civil Engineer, my major is construction of roads and buildings. In today’s Lagos, we are witnessing massive construction projects across the state, from road to land reclamation, bridge construction and energy.
One day, while on duty call, I was reflecting on how 10-20 years ago, many of these structures were not in place neither were there plans for their construction or expansion. In most cases, the constructions were done as the need for them arose over the course of time without thought on the future growth.
Today, due to increasing human and vehicular activities, we see a lot of, for instance, roads that need to be expanded and bridges to be constructed. When there is need for road upgrade and expansion, some properties have to be demolished before the job can be done. If allowance had been included by residents, engineers and planners alike for these future expansions, fewer people will be displaced from their homes and site clearing will be easier. The cost of compensation to be paid to land owners will not be huge. I realized how important it is to build what would still be relevant tomorrow and can easily be improved upon without massively disrupting normal life of people or demolish their existing structures.
Sustainability in itself is basically keeping or doing something that will last and can be built upon by succeeding generations. A plan of action or a thing is not sustainable if it requires to be changed frequently. So the question may be why build something that will not last? Rather I think it should be why not build something that will outlast you?
In a country like Nigeria, we can see especially in Lagos that there are a lot of developments happening. With one project after the other, Lagos is busy working to meet the ever increasing demand for infrastructure upgrade as the population and economic activities surge. Already the 5th largest economy in Africa, Lagos has no choice than rise up to the challenge to keep pace with its economic growth.
With all the ongoing projects, it would be saddening and disappointing for all these structures to be torn down say in the next 10 years or maybe they even fail before then. For instance, making a case study of the Third Mainland Bridge, it was built years ago; if it was built today it would most likely have been built differently. But it has lasted this long. Maintenance is being carried out consistently, while it continues to serve its use without need to pull it down before a repair is made when need arises.
In our construction and development works, we need to be forward thinkers, and build for tomorrow today. That is the only way to ensure sustainability. If I build for tomorrow today, then tomorrow when I need to build, what I built today will still be standing strong and tall, useful and giving time to build for tomorrow’s tomorrow (don’t get confused by the wordplay, get the picture or take it again).
According to Wikipedia, Sustainable development is an organizing principle for meeting human development goals while at the same time sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depend. The desired result is a state of society where living conditions and resource use continue to meet human needs without undermining the integrity and stability of the natural system.
To ensure that the current developments in all sectors are sustainable, intentional efforts have to be made. It won’t just happen because we wish it. It is our duty as professionals to build what will be sustainable and survive generation after generation. What will our legacy be if everything we do today is easily torn apart tomorrow?
Sustainable development goes beyond construction, it is in the passing of knowledge from our generation to the next, doing what we can to ensure that they can make progress technologically; setting processes in place that they endure. It is to empower more generation in build environment. What we have done today should not stand as a stumbling block to the advancement of tomorrow.
I’ll ask again, as engineers what will our legacy be? How do we accomplish this? What level of collaboration do we need to undertake to make this reality? We gather here today to collectively look at this and to pass a strong message to the policy makers on our desire for the Sustainable Future.
Thank you all for coming out today for this glorious event.
Engr. ‘Laolu Adedapo-Aisida, Chairman, APWEN Lagos Chapter, 16th August, 2018