The Nigerian construction industry is ripe with opportunities as we have previously discussed here. However, these opportunities are not without their own share of challenges, so in this post we will be looking at a couple of these challenges in Nigeria’s construction industry.
5 Common Challenges of Nigeria’s Construction Industry
In Nigeria’s construction industry it is not uncommon to see projects dragging beyond their estimated duration because of scope creep on the client’s side.
According to Wikipedia, scope creep (also known as requirement creep, function creep, feature creep, or kitchen sink syndrome) in project management refers to changes, continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope, at any point after the project begins.
In addition, the Project Management Institute (PMI) defines both concepts below;
Scope: the extent of what a project will produce (product scope) and the work needed to produce it (project scope). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fourth edition mentions it is the sum of the products, services, and results produced in a project (Project Management Institute, 2008, p. 440). It is often documented using a scope statement and a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which are approved by the project sponsor.
Scope creep: adding additional features or functions of a new product, requirements, or work that is not authorized (i.e., beyond the agreed-upon scope).
And finally, the PMBOK® Guide describes scope creep as “adding features and functionality (project scope) without addressing the effects on time, costs, and resources, or without customer approval” (PMI, 2008, p 440).
When construction projects are too vague and too generic, there’s bound to be scope creep on the long run. Below are some other causes of scope creep.
- Lack of clarity and depth to the original specification document.
- Allowing direct [unmanaged] contact between client and team participants.
- Customers trying to get extra work “on the cheap.”
- Beginning design and development of something before a thorough requirements analysis and cost-benefit analysis has been done.
- Scope creep “where you do it to yourself” because of lack of foresight and planning.
- Poorly defined initial requirements.
- “Management promises the sun and the moon, and breaks the backs of the developers to give them just that in impossibly tight time frames.”
Construction is largely capital intensive. Just the equipment alone cost millions of naira and contractors are continually faced with issues of finance. The contractor has to invest on plant which is expensive in the case of civil engineering jobs, and requires cash for payment of workers’ salaries, purchase of materials, etc.
Coupled with these, majority of clients also don’t mobilize budding contractors for fear of losing their money or becoming victims of abandoned projects. This creates a lot of pressure for contractors to source for funds to execute projects.
Nigerian banks on the other hand are not so helpful to finance construction projects especially if the contractor is not yet a big player in the industry.
Construction projects are often big budget capital expenditures undertaken by organizations and government. As a result of the big funds involved, the level of corruption is high within the Nigeria’s construction industry.
Top on the list are kickbacks, money paid to someone or a group of persons who are involved one way or the other while prospecting the contract. In most cases, the kickbacks are so much that the contractors themselves rarely make up to what they pay out. This is not limited to government projects alone; it also cuts across private projects too.
Poor Quality Control
Another common challenge of Nigeria’s construction industry is poor quality control. Projects embarked on are often poorly executed in terms of quality assurance. There are a number of reasons for prevailing challenge;
- Greed on the part of the contractor who wants to make too much profit at the expense of quality. This particular factor is what many organizations are trying to curb by refusing to mobilize contractors until project completion.
- Inadequate project funding is another factor that can lead to poor quality control in a construction project. When contractors don’t have the needed finds to properly execute projects, they will tend to cut corners on the quality of materials used.
- Finally, negligence on the part of some contractors is another factor that is responsible for poor quality control. When adequate attention is not given to client’s specifications, there’s a higher possibility of not properly monitoring the whole materials and processes used for construction.
Abandoned projects are another common challenges of Nigeria’s construction industry. Projects embarked on are seldom completed especially the ones contracted by the Government. This is a political as well as a corruption challenge.
It is political in the event that a change of power from one tenure of government to another can lead to the abrupt termination of an ongoing construction project. These have become the fate of major capital projects embarked on by the government in the past.
In most cases, the majority of contracts for those projects were awarded to party men, political associates, friends and family members of the outgoing leaders, and they might not even possess any technical knowledge needed to run the projects.
According to Dr. Abbas Tajuddeen, a member of Nigerian House of Representatives representing Zaria Federal Constituency, claimed that over N5 trillion government projects have been abandoned across Nigeria.
On the other hand, projects are also abandoned due to corruption on the part of the contractors, the government and the public agencies involved. On many occasions, the funds allocated to major projects are stolen for personal use by the contractor or shared amongst the parties involved in approving the project.