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Monday, October 2, 2023

We want to make our country safer, for ourselves, for our children and for coming generations of Nigerians- Seun Faluyi


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SPEECH delivered by Engr Oluseun Faluyi, MNSE, FNISafetyE, FNIMechE during his Investiture as the first chairman of Lagos Chapter of Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers

All Protocols observed.

I want to thank you all for coming to this inauguration today. On behalf of the entire Executive Committee members that are being inaugurated today, as well as the entire members of the Lagos Chapter of the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers who are being inducted today, I want to express our appreciation for the honor of your presence.

When the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers was formed in 2016, it quickly became apparent that there will need to be a Chapter in Lagos. It was apparent for many reasons. It was apparent because there are many engineers in Lagos who are practicing safety related functions and want to contribute to the Society but need a platform to do so. It was also apparent because of the importance of Lagos State, its contribution to the national economy, the sophistication of its inhabitants and how vocal they are and the nature of the businesses, companies and industrial organisations that make Lagos their base. It was also particularly apparent because of the importance that the Lagos State Government places on safety, especially by setting up the Lagos State Safety Commission, the first of its kind in Nigeria.

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The necessity for a Division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers came about because of various disasters that hadbeen occurringin the country that resulted in loss of life and property and required solutions that can only be proffered by engineers. Practitioners in Health, Safety and Environment include a wide variety of professionals. These include health professionals, environmental professionals and safety managers. All these have major roles and responsibilities in ensuring or protecting the health and safety of people, plant and property. Engineers are however principally responsiblefor the design and construction of facilities and equipment and so they have very critical roles to play in minimizing risks to the lives and health of the people that use them.Engineers provide the protection and controls that eliminate hazards that may result in the use of such facilities and equipment and in controlling any losses or damage to plant, property or the environment.It was the recognition of the need for Nigerian engineers to more actively focus on this role that they play that the Nigerian Society of Engineers established the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers.

It is appropriate at this point to highlight that there is a difference between public safety, organizational safety and individual safety. Much of the time, safety is a personal responsibility. Each individual is responsible for their own health and safety and individuals do need to take reasonable steps to protect their own health and safety as well as of their environment. The use of personal protective equipment such as safety helmets, safety shoes and gloves are a personal responsibility.

On the other hand, the installation of protective guards, the design of safety procedures and the provision of safety equipment and signages, in a workplace,are an organizational or corporate responsibility.  Similarly, the provision of rules and infrastructure to protect the general populace or the citizenry of a country, is public safety and is the responsibility of regulators or policy makers or government.

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This is a realization that the leadership of the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers has, that engineers have a major role in assisting (1) individuals, (2) organisations and (30 the government, in promoting and ensuring the safety of lives and the protection of health and property of the public at large. Engineers, by virtue of their training, incorporate factors of safety into their designs. The importance of safety engineering has however expanded. The impact of safety engineering on individuals, organisations and the public, the need forcontinuing professional development for engineer and need for increased public advocacy by engineers, justifies having additional focus by the Nigerian Society of Engineers. The need for safety engineering in Nigeria, for Nigerians,certainly justifies the Nigerian Society of Engineers’ establishment of the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers.

I feel honoured to be the Inaugural Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Institution. I feel honoured because I can see the tremendous impact that Nigerian engineers, and the Institution in particular, can have and is already poised to have on public safety issues in Lagos. For example, one issue that people in Lagos, and indeed in Nigeria, are currently facing is the issue of petroleum tanker explosions on Nigerian roads. There have been several incidents, such as at the Otedola bridge in Ikeja and on the Ojuelegba bridge in the recent past, that resulted in loss and property damage. Many have despaired that there seems to be no solution or end in sight.

Another public safety issue in Lagos is the traffic congestion caused by the parking of trailers on the roads and bridges, especially those leading into the ports in Apapa. There have been a lot of questions raised as to the safety implications of having so much dead loads on the bridges, especially because of their age. Still another public safety issue in Lagos is the perennial flooding in the state and the concern that global warming may be putting Lagos at risk of being submerged with time.

In the world of engineering, these issues are not particularly new or insurmountable. For example, the tankers that have had the greatest propensity to explode or catch fire are those that are fabricated in Nigeria. In fact, it is not even all made in Nigeria tankers that have this propensity.  It is mostly those that are made in welding shops where engineering standards are not followed, that tend to have these problems. I can usually tell, just by looking, which tankers were imported or made by a company and which have been made by the roadside in Mowe or Suleja or Kaduna. For tankers that are properly designed or that have been constructed using the codes and standards, even if there is a breakdown or overturnor impact, they would generally not spill their contents so as to cause a fire or explosion. The Nigerian Society of Engineers has developed codes and standards specifically for the safe transport of petroleum products on Nigerian roads. The next goal is now to make sure that they are adopted so as to actually succeed in making our roads safer in Nigeria. The Institution will be doing this by continuous advocacy with the relevant regulatory authorities and with the various levels of government including Local, State and Federal. It will also do this by providing  continuing professional education for artisans and steel fabricators on the benefits of codes and standards to their own practice and business. It will also provide public education,to road transport owners and operators, on the commercial benefits of adopting higher safety standardsfor their petroleum tanker fleets as these tend to see safety more as a cost than a business benefit.

For the issue of traffic congestion on Lagos roads, caused by the indiscriminate parking of trucks and tankers on roads and bridges, engineers know that traffic management issues are not peculiar to Lagos, or to Nigeria, and can provide a solution. The reason why there are now so many of these trucks on the roads leading to Apapa is because the ports were privatized and the new owners have thrown out the trucks that used to park in the ports. The trucks have also increased in number as a result of increased activities going through the ports. Engineers can do a structural analysis and failure mode analysis of the bridges to determine how safe they are, how well the supports and underlying soil can handle the load or what amount and nature of reinforcement will be needed to maintain their integrity given their age.

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In addition to that, Nigerian engineers can create an integrated transportation plan that will effectively integrate road transport, marine transport and rail transport that can efficiently accelerate the movement of goods out of the ports and thus decongest the roads leading into the ports. The Institution is ready to mobilise a cross disciplinary team of engineers that can work with the Lagos State Government in creating this integrated transportation plan or in upgrading the existing plans to address the challenges currently being faced on the roads.

The issue of flooding is also not peculiar Lagos.At least 40% of urban populations live in coastal cities and all contend with rising sea levels that is a fallout of global warming. These cities face the same grave danger to the safety of their peoples and infrastructure. Engineers in such cities prepare solutions that are a combination of efficient and intelligent drainage systems, proactive town planning for developments in coastal locations and robust management policies for developments in low elevation areas. The Institution is also ready to work with the Lagos State Government in addressing the challenges being brought by climate change.

These examples of solutions may sound obvious for problems that have seemed so intractable but these are to show that engineers are capable and the Institution ready to work with government authorities to improve public safety. The Institution is similarly ready to work with corporate bodies and individuals to improve organsational safety and improve personal safety, especially in Lagos.

I want to also congratulate and thank all the new members of the Institution who are being inducted today. Many have joined because they want to contribute to providing solutions to real safety problems and challenges in the country and not just be part of conferences or talk shops that add little value. Many of them are dynamic and focused and are highly energized to make a difference. I want to thank you all for joining the Institution and also assure you that there is plenty of work to be done, to make our society and communities safer.

We want to make our country safer, for ourselves, for our children and for coming generations of Nigerians. We want to use our skills and professional training to achieve it as no one can do it better than we ourselves. Our meetings are scheduled to be held monthly and will be technical meetings that focus on problems that are faced in Lagos and will require your participation and expertise to articulate solutions that are specific to Lagos and to our country, Nigeria. The meetings will rotate between Victoria Island and Ikeja, every other month. Please make it a duty to attend and contribute actively. I look forward to welcoming you.

Membership is open to all professionals who are practicing safety, whether they are engineers or not. The Institution is a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and so principally draws its membership from engineers. We however recognize that there are many who are not engineers but who have been trained or have gained experience in the practice of safety and are eager to join in preparing engineering solutions so as to make them more comprehensive. We welcome all such as Associates in the Institution and look forward to working together to make an impact on our society.

We will also be partnering with other Nigerian and international organisations who are focused on safety and best practices that elevate the standards of safety in our environment. We therefore look forward to expanding our horizons and broadening the skills and capabilities of our members particularly with regards to engineering safety.

I cannot end this address without acknowledging the tremendous effort of the Investiture Committee who worked so assiduously to put this program together. Engr Kanebi, the General Secretary for the Lagos Chapter, Engr Fowode, the Chairman of the Investiture Planning Committee and all the wonderful engineers and technocrats who have again succeeded in delivering an event that seemed impossible to achieve, and at a level of quality that raises the bar or performance for other NISafetyE chapters and professional engineers, Isalute you. Thank you very much for your hard work. As we all know, the reward for good work is more work so, please, be assured that your work is not over. It has only just begun.

I also thank all the special guests who have taken time out of their very busy schedules to be present today. [ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS]. I am humbled by your presence and deeply appreciate your publicly associating with the Institution. We will justify your confidence in our ability to make a difference and look forward to working with you even more.

Finally, I want to thank the Executive Committee of the Nigerian Institution of Safety Engineers and the representatives of the President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers for the unalloyed support we have been given to start up the Lagos Chapter of the Institution. We will also do our own part to take this Institution forward and advance the cause of Nigerian engineers.

Thank you all very much.

Engr Oluseun Faluyi, MNSE, FNISafetyE, FNIMechE

Chairman, Lagos Chapter


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