Mr Ifeanyi Anago is the Chairman, Fellows Forum of Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors and Principal Partner of Ifeanyi Anago & Partners. In this interview with CHIKA OKEKE, he reveal why Nigeria has the highest cost per capital of infrastructure projects and the need for deliberate and concerted policy to ameliorate housing deficiency in the country. Excerpt
Addressing the 17 million housing deficit
We have a slogan that the quantum of having deficit in Nigeria is 17 million but the figure is actually very speculative. For instance, if an average household have 6 members, then divide 17 million by the figure, you will find out how many houses the people lives in. At times, you will begin to wonder if 17million houses is realistic.
For me, its basically nominal congestion based on publications, articles and among others. But the truth is that we are in dire need of houses in Nigeria; so theres a need for reform in the housing sector. A reform that will actually be anchored on the mortgage system because without a viable mortgage system, housing will be cash and carry. How many people can fund the cost of fully furnished housing, without the kind of mortgage system that spreads the cost over working life?
Previous government had established the Mortgage Refinance Company of Nigeria whose job is to refinance mortgage to enable estate developers who have estates under construction to access funds to finance the estates. If its properly articulated and implemented, there will be hope that they will soon boost the mortgage market in Nigeria. To make construction active is the greatest weapon to draw down poverty and create employment especially housing construction .
For instance, if you are building a typical house, at least 10 people will be employed like the Carpenters, masons, tilers, painters, welders and labourers. If government decides to construct 10,000 housing units in a given time and multiply by 6 which is 60,000 direct employment. If you roll it over , you will find out that our cry concerning unemployment especially with young ones will be greatly minimized when we have articulated programmes of sustainable housing expansion.
Conflicting interest among quantity surveyors, estate surveyors and engineers
In every society where homosapiens interface, there is always a potential for conflicts. Conflict is normal in every society but the issue is that conflict must be managed properly.The Quantity Surveyors, Estate Surveyors and Engineers ought to be performing distinct roles.
An architect designs but an Engineer stabilizes houses and deals with structures that will make architects design stable. Quantity Surveyors cost manages. He is the manager of resources in the construction process. He is in charge of value for money to make sure that people don’t pay for elephant and get supplied for an ant. He ensures that costs are elegantly distributed around the building elements and make sure that people get value for their money. In a building industry, a Quantity Surveyor is the technical accountant, economist and lawyer because he puts together the required contract documents while Estate Surveyor markets or sells the property. If your are looking for cost of a construction
project, you will go to a Quantity Surveyor, if you are looking for value for the project, you will go to an estate surveyor. When an engineer who should restrict himself to design, supervision and infrastructure delivery spills over and begins to look at cost management as his main area of competent, then something must give way.
It is interesting to note that in the Civil service , engineers cost -manage infrastructure projects they supervise. The panacea is let everybody focus himself in the area he’s trained to work. The conflict will seize when each party focuses on their core area of expertise and the society will benefit from it.
In the entire African counties , Nigeria has the highest cost per capital of infrastructure projects. For instance, it costs in Ghana 50% of what it costs Nigeria to build a facility. It costs Kenya 25% of what it costs Nigeria to build a facility. The only country with higher costs per capital is Angola which is another oil exporting country. Those African country maintained the heritage of the colonial government that insists on professionals handling a particular task. Nigeria truncated everything and we are in a mess today . The cure to the conflict is to go back to the beginning and restrict ourselves to what we are trained to do.
Why are Quantity Surveyors sidelined in project costing?
It’s a policy issue because the early graduates of Quantity Surveyors that came from the United Kingdom under the panapoly of Regular British government structured way of things found themselves in a more lucrative private practise. We didn’t find many of them in the Civil Service because it was much profitable to be a private consultant than to work in the Civil Service. So, the engineers and builders who found themselves in the Civil Service took charge of the policy and drove it to pre- determined directions. A QS in England still cost manages engineering projects. In fact, there is a contract in England called GC Works which is the standard government document for procurement of houses, roads and among other. Inside the document, the role of a QS is expressly preserved and expressed which is not available in Nigeria.
Is it a case of a static policy issue?
It’s not static but dynamic though it depends on individual drivers. People involved in politics and policies are expected to effect the changes. Such category of people should be able to ask why it cost X amount of money to construct a kilometre of road when Ghana is 50 percent less. The only people who can change it are those that are patriotic and altruistic.
Developers are advocating for single digit interest rate for long term repayment period. Do you think it can boost housing development in Nigeria?
Yes , because housing is a combination of economic sector programme and social sector project.
Source : Leadership