Expert Opinion

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: ENGINEERING ACTIVITIES IN NIGERIA AND PROPOSED SOLUTIONS

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Engineering is a reputable profession and should be practiced with integrity always, it affects our daily lives. All around us, we are surrounded by products built or developed through engineering. Phones, Computers, Lights, Fridges, Tables, Chairs, Houses, Schools, Churches, Roads, Cars, Bags, etc. the list goes on and on.

If properly applied, engineering helps a society or community achieve a high quality of living standard and human development.

There is a gap in engineering standards and application between developing countries like Nigeria and their western counterparts, this deviation in standards and applications cuts across the different Engineering disciplines like Civil/Structural, Chemical, Mechanical, Petroleum, etc.

Environmental Issues begin when the quality of life in a place is affected negatively. These problems usually result in health problems, loss of lives, property or destruction of an entire community.

Referencing a recent failure in the Civil/Structural Engineering sector; Circa September 2014 in Nigeria, a church collapsed in Lagos, resulting in death and injuries to hundreds of people. Recently in December 2016, a church roof collapsed in Uyo leading to the death and injury of numerous people as well. To prevent such incidents in the future, government regulatory officials in charge of approvals for engineering and building projects have to be held accountable.

Government officials to be held accountable include inter alia: Civil/Structural Engineers that designed and certified the project drawings; the regulatory body that approved the design; the construction company; and other stakeholders. The cases of collapsed church facilities reported in recent times are very devastating, Human resources and by implication life is the most valuable asset a country possesses, as such a high value needs to be placed on the life of citizens and residents of a country.

This can be achieved by ensuring that all Engineering Companies are held accountable for any engineering project or activity carried out within the jurisdiction of the country.

In the Petroleum sector in Nigeria, for example in the Niger Delta, a wealthy and once beautiful landscape, the rich natural resource, environment, human, flora and fauna of the delta needs to be managed efficiently in such a way that enables the prosperity, health and the welfare of the people and the preservation and sustainability of the land and property.

Unfortunately codes of ethics necessary for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta by oil & gas companies exploiting abundant natural resources are near non-existent compared to what is obtainable in Western countries. Every facility has a life span and has to be decommissioned or reviewed for a major equipment upgrade at some point, which requires a high level of scrutiny for approval. In Nigeria, it is apparent that most Offshore and Onshore Oil & Gas Facilities are left to operate under unacceptable conditions, beyond their life span and due period for upgrade or decommissioning. In Several oil and gas producing fields and flow stations in the Niger Delta, major equipment in these facilities located within the Niger Delta can’t pass any functionality test.

This in turn lead to facilities failure, oil spills, and other contamination and damages that negatively impact the environment and land.

If the land and environment of a petroleum producing area is well preserved and not contaminated, the source of livelihood of the inhabitants of the community such as farming and fishing would in turn be preserved.

In the case of the Niger Delta, Oil and Gas producing companies, Engineering service companies etc are not effectively regulated or supervised by the relevant government agencies. Regulatory agencies usually lack competent staff with requisite expertise, as a consequence specifications, Engineering codes and standards are below part with global standards, where they exist, a laxity of enforcement allow for compromise and circumvention.

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