Engr Ali Rabiu, the immediate past President of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), has said that contractors should not be blamed for roads built without drain or drainage systems.
Rabiu in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja said that the inclusion of drainage systems in road construction was a function of government’s specification to contractors.
Reports shown that investigations across the country have shown that many roads constructed lacked drain or drainage systems resulting in the untimely deterioration of the roads.
The former COREN boss, however, maintained that no contractor would deliver what the client had not specified or paid for.
“If you commission a contractor to build a road for you, and give him the design of the road and the price of the contract are negotiated in accordance with the design, the contractor builds the road you have given him.
“If the design includes drainage of course he would have no option than to put drainage, and if it doesn’t include drainage because you don’t want to spend money, he will give the road you have asked him to build.
“It is important as engineers that we advise our government; however inclusion of drainage is a function of what the government has asked you to build.
“Government is the sole owner of roads, out of over 200,000 km of roads we have in Nigeria none belong to any private individual,” he said.
According to him, roads are shared between the three arms of government; the Federal Government owns about 35,000km, the state governments and the local government own the balance.
Rabiu said the owners of the road, which was usually the government, should be ready to take the advice of the professional on the need to build drainage to ensure we have more durable roads.
“Most importantly it has to utilise the services of professionals. If you want to build a road, then you have to go through the conception stage, which also includes the planning, the design and then actualise it by construction.
“It is important that professional engineers are involved, but you have, situations where a governor will call an engineer in his own ministry of works and tell him to build a road from point a to point b within a short time frame.
“The engineer will start running around trying to make it possible because the governors’ word is law to avoid sanctions.
“These are the considerations and in the Nigeria of today we cannot say we want to be professional to the extent of dictating to the governor, the governor can simply remove you from there and put someone else.”
Rabiu said this was one of the challenges faced by engineers especially those working with government.
On what could be done to address this situation since it is costing the government tax payers’ money, the former COREN boss said the professional bodies like COREN and NSE had been on advocacy programmes.
He said they had been advising the government on the right things to do, adding that it was one thing to give advice and another for the advice to be taken.
“The thing to do is for the electorate to vote for the right people. And our political leaders need to know that they are expending tax payers’ money wrongly.
“Because if you do not follow the rules, you are just throwing tax payers’ money down the drain,” Rabiu said.
In the same vein, Mr Marshal Anuforo, also a civil engineer agreed with the COREN boss but added that some other factors also accounted for the lack of drainage on constructed roads.
He said most contracts were sourced by bidders then outsourced to contractors, and according to him, this could involve a long chain of people.
“When the chain becomes so long, from one hand of one contractor to the other and each chain wants to have their own profit.
“The fund that would remain for the job is reduced and the engineer of course will not use his money to carry out the job.
“So, I think that those that give out contracts should ensure that they send officials to monitor and supervise the work.
“This way the contractor that does not do what is specified in the contract negotiation can be called to order,” Anuforo said.(NAN)