THE Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday, proposed a new idea of maintaining government buildings and infrastructures to sustain job creation and increase the life span of government properties.
Fashola made this proposal during the National Council on Works, held in Bauchi State. He said though the policy was initiated in 2019, the idea has become vital. Hence, it was shared with the Head of the Federal Civil Service Commission to create the Federal Public Asset Maintenance department.
The Minister, who disclosed plans to award contracts to maintain 25 federal secretariats across the country, emphasised the proposed department would be replicated across the Ministry Department and Agency (MDAs).
The MDAs with dedicated units are to carry out condition assessments of their infrastructure, develop a maintenance plan and implement procurements for an annual periodic and scheduled maintenance.
“In 9 (nine) facilities that we assessed the conditions of fittings such as fans, air conditioners, light fittings, toilets and wash hand basin, we found that out of 41,800 installations 12,459 representing 29.8 per cent were not functioning. These are people’s jobs to repair, supply, replace and install, as the case may be.
“The development of the maintenance plan and the procurement plan leading to an invitation to tender and award of maintenance contracts for rehabilitation and facility management is a sure pathway to job creation,” he said.
“Currently, we are undertaking maintenance works on 41 (Forty-One) bridges that have employed 1,157 people directly and created 3,309 indirect jobs, and we have facility management contracts for 25 federal secretariats across Nigeria after we completed renovation works. Each facility manager employs at least 40 people.
“This is only a tip of the iceberg because the supply side that supports maintenance involves the purchase and supply of paint, bleach, rakes, brooms, and other tools which create employment for small and medium-sized enterprises, which is another activity of economic empowerment.”
The country is known for poor maintenance culture, especially after executing notable projects such as roads, bridges, airport runways, and the likes until it collapses or the verge of damage; it hardly gets government attention.
The media have repeatedly exposed reports of such neglect of significant government facilities.
The Minister recalled how the Lagos State government set up the Office of the Facility Management, which later awarded contracts to manage 600 schools within the state. The contract awards, he said, were not only beneficial to the small contractors but both skilled and unskilled labours involved in the job execution.
He announced when Nigerians saw beautiful infrastructures abroad, with functional and efficient public assets, it was a product of a maintenance economy established by the government.
He said that public infrastructures such as schools, courts, hospitals, correctional facilities, and police buildings would soon be rehabilitated.
He tasked the state governments to follow the same pace to create sustainable jobs and develop the economy.
“Available data shows that in the ‘built industry’ only about 30 per cent of the manpower is employable by design and construction which lasts until the project is completed; while the remaining 70 per cent are employed in the process of ‘operation’ and ‘maintenance’ of the infrastructure.
“These are the reasons why the development of a maintenance economy must commend itself to all of us here and why we must all return home not only to think about it but to do something about it.”