Construction practices in a developing country like Nigeria differ significantly in important aspects from practices in industrialized or developed countries. In Nigeria, the greatest challenge facing professionals in the field is that the practice of construction is not uniform. It varies with the client, size or complexity of the project from the perspective of the owners. This article sheds more light what building projects in the country entails.
Construction practice is the process of handling a building project its in entirety from conception to completion. Construction practices cannot be limited to actual construction. It involves design, approval and planning referred to as “Pre Contract” then the physical construction and maintenance, termed “Post Contract”. This article aims to delve into the construction activities of the following clients
- Private individuals
- Corporate organizations
- Government (Local, State, Federal)
Private individuals constitute the highest percentage of clients in Nigeria. The projects handled under this category are mainly buildings of various sizes, storm water drainage, access gates to estates, petrol stations e.t.c. Also, there is a vast majority of small building renovation projects such as addition of a room or renovation of a bathroom. The clients that fall under this category are banks, insurance companies, multinational manufacturing companies, oil companies, telecommunication giants and others too numerous to mention.
Construction practices in corporate organizations are more organized. The challenges here are not complex because they have laid down procedures and standards. These procedures vary for different organizations. Development of infrastructure in many organizations is precipitated on the need for maintenance or expansion, which is conceived and approved by the relevant authority within the organization.
Government (Federal, State, Local)
In this category, we have the three tiers of government namely, The Local Government, State Government and Federal Government. The challenges here are monumental. Construction practice in these three tiers of government varies and until very recently there is no transparency in the system. Each arm of government operates a convenient method of design, planning, award and supervision of construction works in the three tiers of government. However since the stability brought by democracy there is a semblance of order and control.
- There are three categories of universities namely, private, state and federal universities. Construction practice and its challenges in most state universities compare favourably with the operations of the owner states. The pattern of administration in the private universities varies considerably. Each private university has its own peculiarities. Discussing them collectively will not be appropriate. The emphasis here will be on Federal Universities. The federal government is responsible for the new developments or maintenance of structures on federal universities. However, other agencies like Education Tax Fund (ETF), banks and other donors contribute to physical development. Each university has a governing council that oversees the affairs of the university on behalf of the federal government.
What is Post Contract?
Post contract is the professional terminology used for all activities carried out when actual construction work starts. The challenges here are too numerous and complicated because of the financial implications and control of construction personnel. Some of these are;
- Quality of construction materials
- Source of equipments
- Availability of qualified and competent workers
- Proliferation of experienced artisans into the field of engineering
- These are two major problems in the construction industry. Fluctuations are caused by increased in the cost of materials while variations occur when a contractor carries out additional works, which are not included in the BOQ.
The price of materials fluctuates without notice or reason. This becomes a major problem for the contractor because most clients insist on non-fluctuating contracts despite the fact that we are all aware that prices fluctuate. The time lag between tendering and award of contract is not fixed. It is very common for the prices of materials to have fluctuated even before the project commences. The financial losses incurred by contracting firms in this regard are a major source of concern.
Having said these, it will be foolhardy to downplay the visible bottlenecks bedeviling the construction industry and construction pratices in Nigeria. These bottlenecks or challenges are quite many. They range from:
(a) Modalities of achieving contracting documents,
(b) Poor planning,
(c) Lack ack of transparency in the award of contracts
(d) The presence of unqualified individuals posing as professionals in the industry,
e) Inadequacy of finance
(f) Declining competence of trained professionals and artisans.
In a follow up article to this, we will discuss the challenges facing the construction industry and constrcution practices in Nigeria