Experts in the built environment have commended the Federal Government’s initiative towards ensuring proper maintenance of public buildings in the country. They stated that it would help the economy to grow by increasing the number of facility management entrepreneurs.

The Senior Special Assistant to Ogun State Governor on Facility Management, Mr Segun Adebayo, said the policy would not only enhance the quality of national assets but would also support the preservation of the life cycle of new assets. Adebayo, who is also the vice president, International Facilities Management Association, Nigeria Chapter, said the policy would propel the revival of maintenance culture in the country and increase the economy of all the industry players including artisans. “In fact, better days are here for all stakeholders in the built environment,” he said. The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, during a Federal Executive Council meeting last week, said the new maintenance policy and framework would institutionalise a maintenance culture in the country.

According to him, the ministry has carried out maintenance requirements of nine public buildings including a school, hospital and government office building, which were used as benchmark for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government and for the consideration of FEC. He stated that the new policy would provide an inventory of government assets throughout the country and create jobs. The minister explained that the Federal Government had never developed such maintenance economy, adding that it started with a national pilot plan for inventory of all national assets and a maintenance procurement manual, which would be made available to all the MDAs in the country. He added that it would give the government an assessment of the conditions, value, and maintenance framework about what should be done after assessments.

The Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Global Property and Facilities International Limited, Dr MKO Balogun, said the policy was the best thing to have happened in the country in recent times. He said, “We have never had any structure towards managing public buildings. As professionals, we had approached the National Assembly through the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and when they were putting the policy document in place, we were invited to be part of it. So, for us, it is a very good development. “It will establish a maintenance culture. Last year, the minister said the issue with Nigeria is not maintenance culture but maintenance economy, and I completely agree with him. If we don’t encourage a system where people will see maintenance as a business, we will not get it done.” Balogun stated that for people to take facility management seriously, they should get paid to manage commercial buildings. “So, it is the right step in the right direction. The Federal Government owns the largest stock of buildings in the country and the policy document also provides some guidelines for parastatals. At the end of the day, everyone that needs to catch up will and it will develop the economy,” he said. “We are creating a culture that will create facility management education and will help people to become entrepreneurs in facility management and thereby improving the way the economy grows,” he added.

Balogun also applauded the Federal Government for creating an opportunity for professionals in the built environment to contribute to the policy document. He said that prior to the development of the policy, there were dialogue sessions with architects, estate surveyors and valuers, engineers and other built environment experts. “The government deemed it fit to make it public by inviting professionals in the industry to contribute to its development.  For me, it is one of the best things coming out of this government; it will create a document that covers all public buildings in the country so we can know when they were built, when they were last maintained and so on,” he said.

An estate surveyor and valuer, Mr Sam Eboigbe, said that while the development was commendable, the Federal Government should also ensure that facility management must be provided for at the planning stage of any public building.

He said, “Right from the design stage even before the construction and completion, there should be a well-planned design so that the moment the project is completed, that is not when someone should be appointed. “As at the time it is being planned with the architect, engineers and others, a consultant who will be saddled with management of the facility should be appointed.”

Eboigbe said many public facilities had been left to decay because facility management was not included in the plan at the construction stage.

“These things happen because there is no maintenance culture. But the ones they are about to start now, government should look for consultants to manage them because waiting to finish the projects before appointing someone to manage them is not the right process,” he said.

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