It is quite abysmal that Nigeria of today, is littered with abandoned building projects ranging from residential houses, commercial buildings, roads, rails, ports, factories, dams, electricity and communication projects to mention a few at all levels of government including the Local, State and the Federal Governments.
It is not only peculiar to government institutions alone but also individuals and corporate companies.
By abandonment, we mean building or projects that are left unattended to, un-occupied, vandalized or deteriorated. In other words, it can mean a situation where an owner ceases to provide maintenance and operating services to a building or where construction projects are uncompleted within the time frame stated in a contract.
A lot of abandoned projects are seen around Lagos metropolis which include the Ilubirin project, the pedestrian bridge along Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, commercials buildings in Marina, the Secretariat building in Ikoyi, Eleganza Shopping Plaza in Ajah and some properties under litigation just to mention a few.
Reasons for these abandonments are numerous and they are enumerated below:
Incorrect cost estimation: Usually when an idea or concept of a construction project is developed, the next stage is to know the cost implication of making the projects till completion. In the event to determine the cost to be expended from land acquisition to development and completion of the projects, there might be incorrect or inadequate cost analysis, and where access to funds becomes epileptic, the projects suffers.
Lack of adequate due diligence in Land Acquisition: We find out that often times, people don’t carry out due diligence in land acquisition only to find out much later that they have been defrauded after the project has begun. In some cases, this brings about law suits and considering the delays associated with litigation in Nigeria, these projects are abandoned since they have become an issue of law.
Inadequate planning: Many projects are embarked upon without doing a feasibility studies. The feasibility studies help to determine the possibility and worthwhileness of any project, it answers the question of why the project is done, how it will and should be done, what are the cost of doing it, the environmental impact of the projects, factors that can affects the projects such as location, what are the risk involved, to whom is the project meant for or going to serve and others. This is what planning is all about, but it is quite unfortunate that of all the projects that have been done in Nigeria, not up to 5% can be said to have undergone a feasibility and viability appraisal which is why at a point during the process, some projects are abandoned.
Poor quality control by regulatory agencies: It is not wrong to say that basically only individual projects are investigated to know whether the construction meets the building rules and regulation or town planning laws, while big projects of prominent personnel can shift the rule to their own benefit because they have people in the government parastatals and other high places. In cases where there is a power shift in governance, then such projects are questioned on their credibility and where the answers are not satisfactory, the projects work is put to a stall until an agreement is reached.
Corruption and communication gap: Usually, it is noticed that most abandoned project are huge projects which involves the interest of many personnel. Communication is the key element in project development and management, where there is a gap of communication amongst personnel, it results to an extended time frame for the completion of the project and in worst cases it stalls work done.
Government policy summersault: We have seen projects abandoned before due to change in government policies. This is multi-dimensional as it can be financial in nature or physical or legal. Financial involves the change in monetary policy which can affect borrowing for example as interest rates may go up suddenly, the bank may be unwilling to continue extending credit line, there might be breakdown in bilateral agreement between banks and Nations etc.
Passage of the project conceiver: Over time, we have seen that in private construction too just like in the government circles, projects are abandoned with the demise of the person whose original idea was the project. The offspring or the family members may not totally buy the idea hence truncate the progress by stepping the project down. In some cases, they look for someone who will buy the project off them entirely.
Having discussed these factors, it is noteworthy that abandoned projects have a great impacts and effects on the people and the environment in the following ways;
It becomes a home or hideouts for hoodlums and miscreant: Buildings/projects are not only abandoned but deserted most especially within Lagos and because no security operatives overseeing or guarding the projects, it becomes an abode for the homeless, run-aways and even new migrants in the city.
It results to wasteful land acquisition by the government: When a huge projects is to be done by virtue of the Land Use Act 1978, which vested ownership of land within a state or federation in the government, vast areas of land are acquired from the people to develop the projects, but in the situation where the project did not actualized, it result to wasting of resources and deprive the previous owners of profitable use they might have put the land into.
It becomes the places where vicious crimes and heinous crimes are committed: Most uncompleted and abandoned structures are places where lots of crimes such as rape, kidnapping, theft, killings are committed. These jeopardizes the security of not only the residents but also passers-by.
All this negativity and de-facing of the city can be resolved if certain recommendations are put in place;
- The selection processes and consultancy of all personnel which includes civil engineers, mechanical engineers, builder and other stakeholders should be characterised by accountability, credibility, transparency, honesty and integrity.
The use of political undertone rather than economic advantage in citing of projects should be discouraged.
- A thorough feasibility appraisal should be done by a certified and experienced member of the appropriate authority being the Nigeria Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers.
- Corruption at the level of government and other stakeholder in the housing sector should be curbed through due process and severe punishment for offenders caught as deterrence to others.
- There should always be a progress report on all sections of the project development.
- Milestone approach of disbursement of project funds should be encouraged where contractors are paid upon completion of a particular milestone.
- Abandoned projects should either be completed or converted to other uses that suits the present economic needs.
- There should be a law promulgated to transfer ownership of abandoned projects to the government. Alternatively, taxes should be impose on those abandoned projects as a way to discourage abandonment.
With the follow-through and execution of the above, the incidence of abandoned projects littering Nigeria landscape will be a thing of the past.
For emphasis sake, at adegbonmire & associates, we are trained Project Planners and Developers. Consulting us will ensure that the project is well planned and the execution is superbly done ensuring there is maximum returns on the investors funds.