Housing Experts Decry Labour Cost

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Experts in the housing sector have expressed concern over the rising cost of labour and the dearth of artisans in Nigeria. A cross section of the experts told our correspondent in Lagos that the scarcity had become a national problem which required the attention of the federal and state governments. Mr Femi Olomola, a former chairman of Nigerian Institute of Town Planners (NITP) in Lagos, said that good artisans were few in the country. He said that the rising cost of labour was worrisome, adding that one was not even sure of getting quality work after paying highly for services. “The dearth of manpower in the housing sector is a big problem in Nigeria. We do not have good carpenters, electricians, masons, bricklayers and even labourers. “This has assumed a national problem that requires government’s attention,’’ he said. According to him, associations in the construction industry cannot do much about the situation because they cannot influence the school system. Mr Femi Shodunke, Vice President of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) in Lagos, noted that charges for labour were not regulated and so the charges varied and were always on the high side. He said that the cost of labour currently varied between N1,500 and N2,000 per day compared to N500 and N600 in the past. “This also depends on how one source the labour. As of now, one bargains on ability to pay,’’ he said. Chief Charles Adebiyi, the Managing Director, Charles Adebiyi and Company a firm of estate surveyors and valuers, said that the dearth of artisans needed urgent attention by the government. He said that good artisans were aging as many of them were in their 60s while young people were not available to replace them. Adebiyi said that the situation had resulted to the closure of the Federal Ministry of Works training schools and non-functional technical schools to train technicians and artisans. According to him, the federal and state governments need to resuscitate the training schools and hand them over to private individuals to manage. Adebiyi said the rising cost of labour was due to the economic situation in the country. “There is inflation; prices of basic necessities of life are on the increase, including house rents. “The artisans have to charge to survive but whether they do a good job to justify the payment is another thing altogether,” he said.