How Ministry of Works can involve locals in road projects, By Ekokorhe Ejiro Friday

Posted by News Express | 23 September 2019 | 624 times

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Oftentimes, people discover themselves when they're confronted with challenges that would seem insurmountable. Again, it is only a fool that will keep doing the same thing repeatedly and keep expecting a different result. Just like every other young Nigerian that’s passionate about our beloved nation, I have engaged in personal thoughts on how we can make our nation great. It is one of such personal thoughts that I seek to share in this piece. Kindly go through it with an open mind and give your opinion. I will be available to entertain questions.

This line of thought centres around the Ministry of Works and, perhaps, it can help the ministry in carrying out its duties more effectively and transparently. 

I have observed over time, the practice of awarding road contracts worth billions to single construction companies. Ordinarily, this is good. But given the times we’re in and the peculiarity of our situation, I think, we need to revisit this practice, with the hope of making some adjustments or changes as the case may be. 

I feel we need to revisit the practice above, for the following reasons:

1. The level of unemployment in the country.

2. The duration/time it takes the companies to construct our roads.

3. To change the perspective of our people that it is the President that has to fix all the problems in our country.

4. To enable citizens become not only part of something greater than themselves but the solution to problems confronting them.

5. To also serve as a check to rural-urban migration, and so on and so forth.

As against the normal way of awarding billions of contracts to companies like CCECC, RCC, Julius Berger, etc., a contract which they will get, use almost the same number of staff strength to carry it out, as they have been doing for ages, thereby taking longer than necessary time to do the job, I think the Ministry of Works can actually give new guidelines on how their contracts will be carried out by companies that are lucky to be awarded such contracts.

The ministry can actually mandate these bigger construction companies to partner with local construction companies/engineers in carrying out their tasks. By this, I mean engineers residing within such communities or small construction companies domiciled within such communities.

For instance, the East-West Road: This road stretches from the South-south to the South-west. It cuts across various states and local communities. Rather than awarding the road to say RCC or Julius Berger alone, in billions and then allowing them to be doing it gradually for many years, the Ministry of Works can come up with the condition/caveat that, before you can be awarded such huge contract, you must show breakdown of how you intend to involve various communities that the road passes through in the construction of their own segment of the road.

To do this, the ministry can mandate these big construction companies to ensure they employ engineers from such communities, who will recruit people from within such communities and supervise them during construction work. 

The implication of such policy is this:

1. It will generate huge employment opportunities for people. With this, many communities will become huge and budding construction sites, thereby leading to massive employment of people.

2. Our roads will be fixed faster than they’re doing at the moment, because work will be ongoing simultaneously on the road.

3. With such policy in place, it will be difficult for people to accuse the Federal Government of not fixing our roads. With this, people will learn to hold the construction companies and their local supervisors/engineers responsible for roads not fixed.

4. With this kind of policy, indigenes of such communities will be gainfully employed. It will be difficult for them to lose jobs to people from outside and this will also serve as a check to rural-urban migration, because many will stay back and work at least till their own portion of the road is complete.

5. This policy will also give Nigerians, locally, pride and confidence that they are/were a part of something big; that they are part of the generation that did something remarkable for the country.

Ministry of Works is one of the most important ministries that is capable of creating huge employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths. With the right policies, like the one suggested above, huge employment opportunities cannot only be generated but well-distributed such that people do not necessarily have to travel down to the big cities in Nigeria before they can be gainfully employed. Presently, what happens is that most of these notable construction companies bid/lobby for these construction of roads contracts, get the contracts, mobilise their people to site, work at whatever pace they want, move the same set of workers to new sites, thereby not employing more people. The impact that the Ministry of Works is supposed to have when it comes to employment is not being felt. This has to stop. It is for this reason that this idea/policy suggestion has been put together.

 

•Friday writes from Lagos and can be reached via Fridayekokorhe21@gmail.com


Source: News Express

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