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COLLAPSED BUILDINGS: COREN TO ARREST OFFENDERS

By NBF News
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The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), has said it would no longer be business as usual for quacks who have invaded the construction industry. The National Assembly plans to amend the Act setting up the Council to entrust it with the power to arrest and prosecute anybody involved in the collapse of a building.

Registrar of the Council, Engr. Felix Atume, while presenting the council's budget defence before the Senate committee on Works recently in Abuja, lamented that though the engineer undertakes the designs of buildings, the actual implementation of the designs lies with the Development Control Authorities. Atume told the committee that in all the cases investigated, no registered engineer has been implicated in any reported cases of building collapse.

The COREN boss further stated that most of the collapsed buildings belong to private developers who deliberately refuse to engage qualified professionals to supervise the construction after receiving approvals from Development Control Authorities. The COREN Registrar pointed out that any engineer found to be involved in shoddy jobs, is usually referred to the COREN Tribunal for investigation and appropriate sanction, while those that are not registered engineers are referred to law enforcement agents.

The Registrar further appealed to the National Assembly to enact a Nigerian Content Law in the construction industry similar to the one in the Oil and Gas Industry, to build a formidable indigenous capacity.”The present situation whereby the country depends almost wholly on foreign construction companies cannot guarantee sustainable development as no one is known to achieve greatness by relying wholly on the expertise of other nationals,” Atume said.

On the unemployment of young engineering graduates, the registrar stressed the fact that in spite of the numerous infrastructural projects being undertaken by both the federal and state governments, running into many billions of naira, the few engineering graduates from universities and polytechnics are roaming the streets without jobs. “The available jobs are taken over by expatriates who come into this country under all sorts of guises,” Atume further said.

While appealing to the Senate to enforce the implementation of the Federal Government's white paper on Strategic Plans for Engineering Development and Control, which resolved that COREN should attest that there are no Nigerian engineering quota granted to foreigners, Atume expressed displeasure over the total neglect of the nation's technical colleges and advised that for Nigeria to attain the Vision 202020 goal, a renewed attention must be given to the revival of technical colleges across the country.

Similarly, a member of the committee, Senator Barnabas Gemade, urged COREN to do all it could to ensure that quacks are barred from infiltrating into the construction sector. The former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), enjoined the council to device strategies to convince both the federal and state governments to ensure that engineers are appointed to head engineering based ministries and other organizations as in the case with lawyers heading the Ministry of Justice and doctors, for the Ministry of Health.

In his earlier remark, the Senate Committee Chairman on Works,  Ayogu Eze, expressed worry that a large percentage of the country's network of road was in a deplorable condition and therefore urged COREN not to leave any stone unturned in its effort to sanitise the profession in order to ensure that Nigerians get value for money in any projects being undertaken.