Challenges Faced by Construction Industry in Nigeria
The Importance of Construction Industry
The construction industry is involved in several activities, ranging from construction of industrial structures, underground structures, individual houses and other critical structures such as bridges, dams, flyovers, and roads. The industry also deals in repairs of buildings and structures as well as alteration. This makes it very crucial for national development and to the economy of Nigeria as a developing nation.
According to a report released by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the construction sector grew by 1.69% in Q1 2020 from 1.3% in Q4 2019. By contribution, the sector accounted for 4.08% of the total real GDP in first quarter of 2020. Although the contribution was lower than the 4.09% contributed by the sector in the same quarter of the previous year, it is an indicator that the sector is evolving at a very fast pace as it is creating employment, wealth and infrastructure. The sector is particularly significant because it is responsible for providing shelter – a basic human need in form of residential and non-residential buildings.
However, despite the promising growth of the sector, there are still several challenges that serve as clogs in the wheel of its progress. Some of these challenges are industry-related, professionals, government, client, project and construction firms-related.
Challenges of the Sector
- Building Collapse
- Material Shortage and Performance of Building Materials
- Unethical Practices/Kickbacks
- Poor Planning/Poor Management
This has become a commonplace in Nigeria with several cases of collapse buildings being recorded every year. The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing noted that about 54 buildings collapsed in Nigeria between 2012 and 2016. The figure increased drastically between 2017 and 2019. This challenge is a pointer to the fact that the industry may have been infiltrated by unprofessional practitioners. These people are fond of the habits of using inferior building materials for building and construction because they are very cheap compared to high quality materials. Industry experts must, therefore, work assiduously to identify those involved and flush them out.
Another major challenge affecting the industry is material shortage and it is often caused by procurement and logistics problem, unavailability of materials, poor estimation of quantity of materials needed, quality of materials purchased, inconsistent demand, and poor workmanship. Shortage of materials leads to abandonment of projects, cost overrun and project delay. More so, in other cases where materials are available, some of them perform poorly because they are of inferior quality and cannot meet the requirements of modern day construction. This has been identified as the reason why buildings collapse.
The construction industry has been riddled by several unethical practices, chief of which is corruption. Corruption rears its ugly head in form of kickbacks, bribes, multiple subcontracting, and other unlawful practices. These involve most stakeholders, clients and regulation agencies. Most construction projects involve big capital layout and they are undertaken by big private organisations and government. Money disbursed for such projects are often misappropriated by the government officers involved and the contractors because the Nigerian system does not create room for accountability. This causes delay and abandonment of projects. Contractors at times deliver shoddy projects because they had bribed their way through the entire process of prospecting the contract, and they will also want to make enough to compensate for the money spent to win the contracts.
Lack of security affects the progress of construction projects in Nigeria. Kidnappers, insurgency, political and social unrest have caused many construction firms which have necessary technology and techniques to be reluctant about undergoing construction work in the affected areas. Construction activities have been suspended in some areas where there have been incessant attacks of crime. Construction can only thrive in a peaceful environment. Government needs to come in here, as the major responsibility of any government is to provide a safe and peaceful environment for its citizens to live and work.
The industry lacks proper planning and coordination of all organisations, professional bodies and trade unions involved in decision-making process at critical stages. This is occasioned by the lack of synergy by the bodies, and is exposing the industry to certain risks which include the influx of quacks. Some of the managements in charge of construction projects do not also know how to treat workers or plan the projects well. Issues bothering on political, tribal and family differences often come up. Hence, most contractors do not complete their projects as planned.