Engineers have expressed concern that the lack of recognition for engineers has been contributing to the rise in fraudulent practices in the construction industry.
The Managing Director of O’Dram Project Limited, Olatunbosun Adaramola, said the undervaluing of engineers in the building industry has left a labour gap.
He said, “Due to the undervaluing of engineers in the industry, engineering graduates and even experienced engineers are turning to other professions like tech, finance, and so on, to get better values for their skills. The gap has made quacks thrive in the industry.”
A project engineer at Dutum Company Limited, Michael Akinpelu, claimed employers and homeowners do not value engineers.
“From the perspective of employers, most of them do not pay engineers well. Hence, the engineers migrate to better companies. This also makes some engineers take care of themselves on-site. They are the ones that instead of using five bags of cement, use four and sell the fifth one.
“So, these employers lose the best engineers and the ones left to find a way to shortchange themselves, hence delivering low-quality jobs. “
According to him, homeowners hire quacks because of cheap fees and end up paying much more than they bargained for.
He said, “From the perspective of homeowners, they do not want to pay engineers to do their jobs because of the cost, and people who avoid paying engineers end up paying more to quacks. For instance, giving a bricklayer the function to supervise your building is totally wrong because such a person has nothing to lose, unlike engineers who have their licenses on the line to protect.
“As a matter of fact, these unqualified ones, the moment they are paid, expend the money on hard drinks and spend it on irrelevant things. When it is close to the time to deliver the job, they just find a way to patch things up.”
Akinpelu asserted that engineers’ license puts them in check to deliver good jobs. However, on the other end, they would end up demolishing and rebuilding, hence spending more.
He added, “The best of these quacks is still limited technically because there are times that they get stuck and do not know what to do, hence using the wrong measurements, which in the long run causes buildings to collapse.”
Also, a mechanical engineer, Tochukwu Stanley, noted many homeowners bypass professionals and give jobs meant for engineers to quack without knowing the implication.
He said, “Because we know the situation of the country, everybody just wants money no matter how small, so these homeowners leverage on it and get cheap services. However, going by our professional standard, we get a certain percentage of the overall cost of each project. This has undervalued us.
“It has impacted the sector because you can now find unqualified people working as engineers. Some graduates who just graduated with no experience are also being used and this has resulted in many building collapses. Hence, it is not just about the theoretical knowledge obtained in school but the practical know-how.”
Stanley noted that there was a need to sensitise clients to engage qualified professionals in order to reduce the rate of building collapse in the country.
He added, “Professional bodies should put a check on this issue. Most of these people have houses abroad, of which they comply with their ethics over there.”
Meanwhile, a partner at Building Services Design Consultant Limited, Taye Olufemi, said whenever a building collapses, engineers were often blamed.
He said, “This is really disheartening because some developers would rather call quacks to do a complicated job, and then get a consultant to supervise.
“The Federal Government needs to open up ports. For instance, some ports in the eastern parts of the country are dead, and this makes transportation more difficult.”
According to him, due to the longevity of transporting building materials, some developers get alternatives that are substandard. (punch)