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How governments can avoid abandoning infrastructure projects — Expert

Nigeria has a huge infrastructure deficit due largely to the high volume of abandoned projects in the country, but a professional project management consultant has…

Nigeria has a huge infrastructure deficit due largely to the high volume of abandoned projects in the country, but a professional project management consultant has proffered solutions on how that can be avoided.

Victor Esiemokhai, a civil engineer, has a specialty in project management and over 10 years of experience working with Shell and the Qatar Ministry of Works and Housing.

In an interview with Daily Trust in Abuja, he gave reasons why many projects fail in Nigeria and end up being abandoned.

The Daily Trust can report that many infrastructural projects across the country have been abandoned – the Millennium Tower and Cultural Centre in Abuja, being a prominent example.

Recently, the Minister of FCT, Nyesom Wike, decried the rate of abandoned projects in the territory. His works counterpart, Engr. David Umahi, has also expressed concern over the duration it takes to complete projects in the country.

But Esiemokhai, who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vonos Project Management & Vonos Automotive Engineering, said the problems could be solved if governments at all levels were willing to engage project management consultants to oversee the execution of every critical infrastructure project in the country.

According to him, “one of the main areas that results in project failure is time management. We are really failing in time management in Nigeria. We have this deficit (infrastructure) because there is no intermediary between the client and the contractor.

“The intermediary person is the project management consultant. The consultant works between the client and the contractor to ensure that what the client wants is implemented.

“Should there be any deviation or variance, it is the responsibility of the contractor to communicate to the consultant, who is the project management body, and who therefore relates all the areas where there are problems to the client for proper reconciliation. But in Nigeria, this is not properly put in place.”

He explained that every project is allocated for a period of time and for a specific purpose, stressing that there are three main elements in a project: task, time and purpose.

“So when this is not properly defined for a contractor, there’s going to be failure. And we have what is called time, scope and the cost of that project. Scope takes care of the specifications of the project, while time is the allocated period of time fixed for the project to be completed.

“An approved project management schedule must have a work breakdown structure, which breaks down the project into what is going to be delivered. This is called deliverables. Then we have what are called milestones. In Qatar, they tie in the cost payment to the milestones.

“In road construction, for example, you can break down the milestones like mobilisation to site, procurement of equipment, layer grading and application of bitumen etc. So when a contractor is mobilised to site, that is a milestone that is being completed, and that contractor is due for payment of the approved cost for that particular milestone. And each of those projects is subdivided into what are called manageable activities and is managed by consultants to ensure that the clients are doing what they are supposed to do.

“In Nigeria, we are not properly managing our time on our projects, which is why we are having a lot of project failures. Who manages this time? It is not the client or the contractor; it is the project management consultant, such as a consulting body, that oversees the project schedule, the cost, the quality and the whole task of the project, which is being put in place according to contractual requirements,” he further said.

Esiemokhai, drawing on his experience from working in Qatar, added that the government is not taking it seriously to ensure that on every project awarded to a contractor, there is an external project consultant who oversees its execution.

He emphasised that the people working in the ministry were not supposed to manage any projects the ministry awarded.

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