ENGINEERING REGULATIONS MONITORING: AWARENESS AND IMPLEMENTATION CHALLENGES, THE WAY FORWARD.
A PAPER PRESENTED BY ENGR. ALI A. RABIU. FNSE, F.ASCE, FAEng, PRESIDENT OF COREN AT THE 6TH TECHNICAL SESSION OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FORUM OF THE NIGERIAN INSTITUTION OF CIVIL ENGINEERS ON 4TH SEPTEMBER, 2022.
Engineering Regulation Monitoring (ERM) is a creation of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and was instituted in 1997 as machinery for monitoring compliance of the COREN Act. ERM committees were thereby inaugurated across Nigeria with the mandate to ensure sanity in engineering practice. The committees also ensured that engineering is practised to the desired standards as contained in the codes of practice. ERM Committees comprise of all the cadres of practitioners and operated as ad-hoc group from inception with little success because they lack the capacity to enforce the regulations of COREN.
With the amendment to the COREN Act in 2018, Engineering Regulation and Monitoring became a core duty of the COREN with the establishment of the Engineering Regulation Monitoring Department in the Council.
The Council therefore restructured and constituted State Technical Committees of the ERM to enforce compliance with the COREN Engineers (Registration, etc) Act, 2018, as amended and to achieve a desirable standard of engineering practice for the safety of lives and properties.
This paper will highlight the challenges to the operation of the State Technical Committees of the COREN ERM with associated recommendations for an improved service delivery.
2.0 Regulation of Engineering Practice.
Engineering practitioners include anyone who is engaged in a professional practice that delivers science and technology services in planning, research, design, analysis, testing, evaluation, or in training. They are entrusted with the highest level of responsibility of protecting the public safety, health and welfare. Also, in recent past, increasing diversification and sophistication of technology has made the roles of engineering practitioners unavoidably important, hence to retain the confidence of the public engineering practitioners need high levels of both expertise and ethics, since good ethics is good business.
From the interpretation, clause 20 of the Engineers (Registration, Etc.) Act as amended, Engineering practice means any act of planning, designing, composing, evaluating, advising, reporting, directing or supervising that requires the application of engineering principles and concerns the safeguarding of life, health, property, economic interests, the public welfare, or the environment, or the managing of any such act. Engineering requires practising experts working in social context and performing services such as promotion of health, production and education which are essential to a functioning society. Engineering insist upon highly-skilled and culturally diverse human resources, who play important roles in accelerating innovation and supporting the industry.
The client of the engineering profession is the society and the practice does not exist outside the domain of societal interest. Hence the need for social control for rules, standards and guidelines for behavior, which is the same as regulation. Regulation of engineering is established by various jurisdictions of the world to encourage public welfare, safety, well-being and other interests of the general public, and to define the registrant and registration process through which an engineering practitioner becomes authorized to practice engineering and / or provide engineering professional services to the public.
Like any other profession, Engineering profession can be self-regulated or by government agency. By self-regulation, the professional association will develop the Codes of Ethics and issue license to its members. Alternatively, the government regulation is through an agency of government empowered to issue Codes of Ethics and practice license to its registrants. The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) is the regulatory body that governs the practice of engineering in Nigeria.
3.0 Mandates of COREN.
The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN, formerly known as the Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria was established by Decree No. 55 of 1970 as amended by Decree 27 of 1992 now Engineers (Registration, etc.) Act, CAP E11 of 2004. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR assented to the Engineers (Registration, etc.) (Amendment) Act No. 3, 2018.
COREN as a statutory body of the Federal Government of Nigeria is empowered to regulate and control the practice of Engineering in Nigeria in all its aspects and ramsifications.
COREN is mandated to carry out the following functions:
• Determine who are engineers for the purposes of this Act;
• Securing, in accordance with the provisions of this Act, the establishment and maintenance of a register of persons entitled to practice as registered engineers and the publication from time to time of lists of those persons; Granting of compulsory attestation to all expatriate quota applications for engineering practitioners, including turnkey projects, that there are no qualified and competent Nigerians for the job in question at the time of application and that granting of the expatriate quota shall be contingent on training of such number of persons as may be required for the execution of the job, and ensuring that, before being allowed to practice in Nigeria, such foreign engineering practitioners granted work permit, register with the Council and obtain such licenses including practicing licenses as may be required from time to time;
• Investigating Engineering Failures;
• Development and inauguration of Nigerian Codes and Standards;
• Regulating and controlling the practice of the engineering profession in all its aspects and ramifications;
• Prosecuting any person or firm that contravenes the provisions of this Act in a court of competent jurisdiction;
• Mandatory attachment of Nigerians to expatriate engineers on major projects to understudy them from inception;
• Ensuring that all foreign engineering firms establish their design office in Nigeria;
• Performing other functions conferred on the Council by this Act.
• Regulating industrial training schemes in engineering for the training of engineering practitioners and students;
• Determining what standards of knowledge and skill are to be attained by persons seeking to become registered as engineers and raising those standards from time to time as circumstances may permit;
• Ensuring capacity building and monitoring local content development in the Nigerian engineering industry.
4.0 Establishment of the ERM – State Technical Committee.
COREN age long advocacy and monitoring platform otherwise referred as Engineering Regulations and Monitoring (ERM) was recently redesigned and restructured. The advocacy which was started in 1997 was aimed at ensuring composite value addition to the Nigerian economy by systematic development of capacity and capabilities through deliberate utilization of Nigerian human and material resources and services in the Nigerian engineering sector. The ERM as it were was aimed at putting in the hands of practitioners their destiny for prosperity. The amended Act has instituted Engineering Regulations Monitoring (ERM) as an important mandate of COREN and to further deepen professionalism in engineering practice. The Council therefore established the ERM Department and presently working to recruit experienced practitioners to drive the schedule of duties.
Meanwhile, the Council has inaugurated the States Technical Committees (STCs) as well as the State Expatriate Monitoring Committees (SEMCs) of the ERM to immediately commence the activity of the Department. So far, the Committees started work in 15 states of the Federation. Work is at an advanced stage to have all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory STCs and SEMCs inaugurated. The Council is working through the various STCs and SEMCs to monitor and enforce compliance of the COREN Act. The STCs are therefore expected to act as:
A tool to promote Ethics in the Engineering profession.
A tool to hold all engineering personnel accountable.
A tool to promote professionalism.
A programme that engineers in the public service in particular can use to resist external pressure.
A programme to promote value for money in engineering projects.
The Terms of Reference of the STCs Include:
a. Ensure the Registration of Engineering Practitioners (local and expatriates) and firms with COREN;
b. Ensure that engineering is practiced in Nigeria in accordance with the relevant Codes of Engineering Practice in order to protect her development and economic investment;
c. Enforce Maintenance of Discipline and strict Standards of Ethics in the practice of the Engineering Profession in Nigeria;
d. Foster the speedy acquisition of all relevant Engineering and Technological Skills by ensuring capacity building and monitoring local content development in the Nigerian Engineering Industry.
e. Minimize and with time, eliminate Engineering and technological dependence of Nigeria on other countries by mandatory attachment of Nigerians to expatriate Engineers on major projects to understudy them from inception;
f. Minimize enormous foreign exchange leakage from Nigeria resulting from existing domination of engineering activities particularly in the Petroleum and Construction Sectors of the Economy by foreigners;
g. Facilitate and expedite the positioning of the Nigerian Engineering Practitioners to join in the global competition for incomes accruable to Nigeria from International Engineering Consultancy and Construction practice; and
h. Monitor and ensure compliance with the Engineers Registration Acts of 2004 and 2018 by all Engineering Practitioners.
The strategies for the implementation of ERM comprise:
(i) Monitoring of Public and Private Sectors Companies and Institutions offering Engineering Training or capable of offering Engineering Training and Education;
(ii) Monitoring of Consulting and Construction Engineering Firms’ activities;
(iii) Monitoring of the Deployment and Training of National Youth
Service Corps (NYSC) Engineering members and Supervised Industrial Scheme in Engineering (SITSIE) trainees;
(iv) Monitoring and Regulation of registration and Engineering practice of all Engineering practitioners (Nigerians and Expatriates;
(v) Identifying quacks and unregistered persons and their prosecution in a competent court of law;
(vi) Ensuring that ERM Teams have access to Engineering project sites, premises of organizations and institutions where Engineering is being practiced;
(vii) Monitoring of the Public and Private sectors in the Federation of Nigeria to ensure adherence to the regulations and ensuring that all members of the Engineering Family deployed therein are registered by COREN;
(viii) Monitoring of compliance /adherence to licensing of Engineering Firms;
(ix) Monitoring full implementation of the regulation on construction industry;
(x) Monitoring full implementation of the Regulation on Engineering appraisal/valuation;
(xi) Monitoring full implementation of the regulation on Engineering economy.
(xii) Monitoring full implementation of the regulation on Cost Engineering;
(xiii) Ensuring capacity building and monitoring of local content development in the Nigerian Engineering industry.
4.1 ERM Mode of Operation.
The STC shall implement policies formulated by the National Technical Committee and sensitize the State on COREN activities among others. The mode of operation of ERM shall be the sectorial approach with emphasis placed on the following:
5.0 ERM Implementation Challenges.
Inability to regulate effectively especially as it relates to quacks;
Low confidence of Engineering Personnel with COREN;
The incursion of foreign firms dominating Engineering jobs in Nigeria;
Low motivation arising from poor Emolument for members of Engineering Family and of COREN staff;
Lack of self-profiling;
Ample time wasted in projecting COREN into limelight;
Failure of engineering infrastructures;
Appointment of non-Engineers to head engineering organizations / departments;
Inadequate facilities for training;
Use of volunteers for ERM Committees assignments;
Lack of interest by State governments in the ERM activities;
Similar Professional Bodies/Associations;
Attempt by some organization to take over the regulatory functions of COREN, example; Council of Nigerian Mining Engineers and Geoscientists (COMEG).
6.0. Conclusion and Recommendations.
In pursuant of its mandate to regulate engineering practice in all its aspects and ramifications, COREN has over the years been involved in the monitoring of all engineering activities across the country. Initially, the COREN Act did not provide for direct enforcement of its regulations; the Council’s role was limited to advise which is often not adhered to. However, with the Engineers (Registration, etc.) (Amendment) Act No. 3, 2018, Council now has the power for strict enforcement of Engineering Laws.
In recent times, the issue of building collapse and failure of engineering infrastructure is very alarming with its attendant loss of lives and property. To stem the tide of the above menace in the country, the following are hereby recommended:
i. Development Control Departments in States and the Federal Capital Territory should be directed to engage COREN Registered Engineering Consulting Firms in their review and checking of engineering designs;
ii. COREN ERM Committees should be allowed free access to any building construction site for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the relevant codes of engineering practice during construction and even when collapse occurs;
iii. All engineering designs should be appended with Registered Engineers’ COREN Stamp and seal;
iv. No Infrastructural projects should be executed without an appropriate registered engineer undertaking to supervise the work and seen to do so;
v. Every Client / Developer should submit a Project Control Form as part of an undertaking to execute the relevant project with approved drawings/design, specifications materials and with the services of Registered Engineers.
vi. No firm should execute any engineering project without a current Practicing License of COREN
vii. The Particulars of Registered Professionals should be conspicuously displaced at all project sites.
viii. Investigation and failure analysis of structure is a very serious business. In the events of collapsed structure, the services of a Registered Engineering Consulting Firm should be engaged for the investigation and failure analysis and should be paid for by the Government.