Engineers, building experts call for skills development, improved infrastructure

Engineers and building experts in Lagos called for proper designs while planning developments as well as regulation of settlements to tackle infrastructure deficit in the country.

The stakeholders made the call during the World Engineering Day lecture organised by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Ikeja branch. They also suggested vocational training to address skill gap among local artisans.

The NSE Chairman of the branch, Engr. Funmi Akingbagbohun, in her speech on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) eight, nine and 11, said that Nigeria was a dynamic country with opportunities for engineers to be innovative.

Akingbagbohun said that the cultural diversity and laws of the nation offered local engineers opportunity to proffer solutions to environmental and various challenges in the country.

“Nigeria is a very dynamic country, filled with engineers that are innovative, creative and it is something that we have done before and we know that our engineers are equal to the task to be able to run a sustainable community and country,” she said.

She commended the efforts of the Lagos State Government working to ensure improved infrastructure, roads and traffic system.

She also commended the efforts of the Federal Government corroborated by Lagos State, to ensure local content was adhered to in all major projects.

Mr Kunle Awobodu, President, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) called for proper planning at design stages of construction to ensure infrastructure needs were captured to prevent deficit in the future.

Awobodu represented by a former Lagos Chapter Chairman, Mr Olatunde Jaiyesimi, said that there was shortage of roads, houses, electricity and other infrastructure in the nation because population projections were not considered in planning infrastructure.

He decried poor maintenance culture in the nation, saying that weigh bridges which regulated axle load on roads to prevent quick degeneration on the road had disappeared.

Awobodu suggested the need to develop infrastructure that would serve the nation, saying that there was need to develop affordable mass housing for Nigerians.

He called on governments to create enabling environment for the private sector operators to thrive while urging professionals in the built environment to champion the issue of efficiency.

“We don’t have infrastructure that take care of our own slow development,” he said.

Mr Fitzgerald Umah, Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Lagos State, speaking on goal nine of the SDG, said that no country could survive without an effective inter-modal transportation system.

Umah said that Lagos by 2030 would hit a population of 30 million to 50 million people, noting that government must work on a sustainable mass transit inter-modal transportation system to tackle economic and environmental challenges.

He explained that the current haphazard settlement in Lagos must change by government adopting innovative infrastructure development such that people can shop, work, do business and live in the same neighbourhood without commuting far.

Umah commended ongoing efforts to develop the water transportation by the Lagos State Government but noted the need for inter-modal transportation for environmental protection.

He also commended the Oshodi Transport Interchange being constructed but suggested the need to reduce vehicles on the road to reduce carbon emissions by increasing mass transit.

Mr Alani Adegoke, President, Built-World African Leadership Foundation, an NGO and former Secretary, NIOB, Lagos, said that goal eight which is education was important to ensure employability of Nigerian graduates so as to de-emphasise certificate and focus on skills.

Speaking on the topic “Skills Development: Panacea for Youth Employability and Employment Challenges’’, he said that recent pronouncements of the Federal Government showed that government was aware of the huge unemployment rate, saying that a lot needed to be done to solve the problem.

He noted that 50 per cent of the workforce among artisans in the construction industry were aging and were over 50 years of age, resulting in huge skills gap among the youth.

Adegoke listed causes of skills gap to include lack of skills, bad economy, aging workforce, change in employment needs, lack of adequate funding of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), among others.

He suggested that labour laws should be strengthened and decried influx of foreigners taking over the job of building artisans.

He called on the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to fight for strengthening of the labour laws to stop the influx of foreigners in the construction industry.

Other speakers raised awareness on the need to adopt safety measures on construction sites to avert accidents leading to injuries and deaths as well as eliminating quacks causing building collapse and construction failures.

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