The Federal Government has said that the implementation of its new National Public Buildings Maintenance Policy would empower Nigerians especially artisans and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said this while briefing the newsmen on the National Infrastructure Maintenance Framework for Public Buildings on Thursday in Abuja.
The National Public Buildings Maintenance Policy seeks to provide guiding principles for the maintenance and repairs of public buildings nationwide.
It is also charged with the responsibility of repairing such related assets nationwide, in compliance with extant regulations.
Fashola said that the Federal Executive Council on Jan. 9 approved the National Maintenance Framework for Public Buildings.
He said the Council was persuaded to accept that while skill training and vocational centres existed nationwide for training artisans, there was lack of national policy for the practice of these vocations to be economically worthwhile on a sustainable basis.
Fashola said that under the implementation of the policy, sites assessment and valuation of the affected buildings would be conducted; measurement and data would also be collated.
This, he said, on its own required the employment of people to carry out this process and therefore multiple of jobs would be created from the very first step for Nigerians, especially Artisans.
“Available data showed that many people trained in these vocations often resort to earning a living by resorting to vocations in which they do not have a training such as riding motorcycles and tricycles to make a living.
“Therefore, the Federal Government’s decision on maintenance is an economic one, to empower Nigerians at the base of the economic pyramid who are artisans, owners of small businesses, and SMEs who are involved in manufacturing building materials.
He explained that the maintenance framework on public buildings firstly would apply to public buildings but would ultimately extend to other public assets like roads, bridges, rail, and power installations, among others.
“This is policy decision of enormous profundity because the records do not indicate that any such policy decision has previously been taken at the federal level.
“The decision was provoked by a memorandum from the ministry that challenged the conventional thinking that Nigeria does not have a maintenance culture.
“The memorandum was argued on and FEC agreed that maintenance of infrastructure whether public or private, is not a cultural issue but an economic one.
“It showed that in the built industry, only 23 per cent of the workforce is employed; by design six per cent, construction 15 per cent, governance two per cent while the remaining 77 per cent are employed by maintenance and operation,’’ he said.
Fashola said that condition assessment was the next step that would require people to be trained and employed to assess the conditions of affected buildings from foundation to roof and for mechanical and electrical sustainability for purpose.
“In one of our sample buildings leading up to the memorandum to FEC, we found out that out of 63 air-conditioning units, 11 required replacement or repairs.
“We also identified windows, doors, tiles, roofing materials, plastering works that required replacement or repair.
“This provides a window of opportunity for small businesses who are into facility management and for young graduates of building technology, architecture, engineering and even technical schools to register for these contracts.
“Successful bidders are then in a position to employ artisans to execute the maintenance contract they have won in the bid,’’ he said.
Fashola said that its pilot survey programme covered nine buildings comprising a Federal Government College, a Federal Hospital, a Federal Court building, a federal prison, a federal secretariat and the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.
He, further, said that the pilot survey showed that these nine buildings would cost N40.3 billion to reconstruct and N922.8 million per annum to maintain them.
“Just these nine buildings will require about 448 people to keep them well maintained a year. This is an economic choice by this government to drive the small business sector, to drive skill utilization and to move the economy.
The ministry had in Dec. 4, 2018 held stakeholders’ workshop on review of the draft policy with inputs from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies.