Improved policies ‘ll increase investment in housing –Alufohai

Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

The Chairman, Quantity Surveyors Academy Board, Mr Agele Alufohai, has said the Federal Government can tackle the country’s housing deficit by improving policies that will encourage more investment in the industry.

He also predicted that there would be a boom in the construction of infrastructure for delivering gas and oil to power plants and industries when the issues surrounding the Petroleum Industry Bills were resolved.

Alufohai, who is a former president of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, made these known at the Quantity Surveyors’ Academy Construction Arbitration Skill Acquisition and Certification Training held recently, in Abuja.

He said, “Improving policies concerning mortgage banking and urban planning, we will see more foreign investments in closing Nigeria’s 17 million housing deficit. Construction is a very expensive business, and where there is money, there is always a risk. Any country that wants to attract a lot of money, in terms of investments must take risk mitigation very seriously.

“That is certainly what quantity surveyors are doing by extending and sharing arbitration skills. Construction is fraught with all sorts of risks, from delayed delivery to cost overrun. For a country like Nigeria, with a huge infrastructure gap and limited means of financing, we have no choice but to procure infrastructure increasingly using Public-Private Partnerships.

“If big-ticket construction projects are fraught with risks because they have a considerable possibility for dispute, PPPs multiply the risk. Arbitration is thus a means of considerably de-risking investment in construction generally and in projects procured through PPPs particularly.”

According to Alufohai, given Nigeria’s vast social needs and the huge debt service burden, at 50 per cent of current revenue, the country has little choice but to fund critically needed infrastructure through Private-Public Partnerships.

He stated that the Federal Government needed to seriously boost capacity to attract PPP financing for infrastructure.

He explained that this was a quick way of retooling the country’s productive base and attracting much needed foreign exchange, adding Nigerian professionals equally had a key role in attracting private sector investment into infrastructure development in the country.

Alufohai said, “The Quantity Surveyors Academy, in conjunction with the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors and the Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria, has started this hard work.

“The Quantity Surveyors Academy will be conducting high-quality training in many other areas such as oil and gas and heavy engineering, focusing on new trends in construction in these areas, including economics and technology, as well as private and public sector financing.”

He said he was hopeful that construction professionals in the public sector would also try as much as possible to take advantage of the courses and training to achieve the needed growth through a seamless public-private partnership.

He stated that the Construction Arbitration Skill Acquisition and Certification Training, a three-week intensive training covered a wide range of arbitration and mediation issues in the construction industry.

The last two weeks of the programme involved studies, reviews and assignment aimed at building confidence in participants and ensuring that they could translate theory into practice while participants would be required to engage in personal study and review of the entire study and supporting materials, he added.

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