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25.11.2005 General News

Ghanaian Engineers are ill prepared - Dr Adjaye

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Accra, Nov 25, GNA - Dr Robert Adjaye, the President of the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE), on Thursday said many Ghanaian Engineers were ill prepared to participate in engineering activities involving procurement.

He said even though the Public Procurement Act (Act 663) had explicitly made provision for engineers on the procurement board, "many engineers are ill prepared for such activities and have not yet taken their rightful place on many of the entity tender review boards." Dr. Adjaye said this when he delivered the 36th Presidential Address of the GhIE, on the topic: Ghana in Search of Engineering Excellence.

He said it was high time engineers took their rightful place in all spheres of national life including, politics, education, economics and others to ensure they maintained their influence on national policies and programs involving engineering works.

"Most engineering activities, whether design of construction, involves procurement and we need engineers who are proficient in the procurement procedures to be able either win contracts or to influence decisions on the award of contracts and ensure that contracts go to equally proficient engineers," he said.

Dr Adjaye said, for instance, that whiles in the United Kingdom domestic engineers were benefiting from the 8.3 billion pounds sterling engineering works for the 2012 Olympic Games, the same could not be said for Ghanaian engineers about the CAN 2008 engineering works.

"Indications are that apart from five local consulting firms which may be engaged for supervision purposes, no part of the Design and Build contract will be handled by any Ghanaian firm," he said.

He said the nation would derive more benefit, through expansion of its engineering base and enhanced economic activity, when the level of involvement of Ghanaian engineering and other allied firms was increased.

Dr Adjaye expressed regret that some structures such as communication towers/masts and "unregulated building constructions with questionable designs" being erected all over the country without due compliance with structural, mechanical, environmental and planning regulations.

"Who authorises them to be constructed and erected and who inspects them? Are we waiting for these masts and structures to collapse, kill someone or for a plane to crash into them before we take the necessary action?," he asked.

He cited the Tema Oil Refinery fire out-break incident, saying that it was largely due to unregulated engineering activity at the cite that led to the out-break and called for a close collaboration between government and the GhIE in which engineers would be called upon to advise government on the construction and maintenance of structures. Dr Adjaye said in Nigeria, for instance, the government had a policy to ensure that no unqualified expatriate engineers practiced in the country and no qualified expatriate engineering wins a contract that could be performed by a qualified domestic engineer.

"GhIE would continue to seek ways of working with the government and Parliament to enact a comprehensive Engineering Bill to be subsequently passed into law to regulate the practice of engineering in the country. We hope our government will also learn from the Nigerian example for the benefit of our country," he said.

Dr. Adjaye reiterated the call by Apostle Kwadwo Sarfo, founder and leader of Christo Asafo Mission for increased technical, science, mathematics and technology education in Ghana, saying that Ghana needed technologically educated work force and society to warrant development at the pace set out in current development plans.

He said there was need to make science, maths and technical education fashionable and "cool" to make it attractive to the youth in order for them to be able to make informed choices in favour of technical literacy in the future.

"This should include among other things hands on learning approach, with reference to application of engineering in real life and its contribution to the societal good. We must also create better incentives with tax concessions for firms offering training facilities for students and commercial exploitation of research findings," he suggested.

Dr Adjaye said there was a close correlation between science, engineering and technology (SET) education and national development, adding that until government embrace SET and engineering excellence as a means national development, the quest for national development and wealth creation would forever remain an illusion.

He urged the government to also learn from the Malaysian experience and ensure that every national development plan run concurrently with a population and housing census to ensure that the plan address challenges of population increase.

The GhIE President also called on the government to expedite the inauguration of the Presidential Commission on Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) with the mandate to seek ways of promoting and utilizing local engineering skills base.

Dr Adjaye urged his colleagues in the GhIE to also take much more proactive role in formulating and shaping national policies and further charged the institution to increase efforts to register and regulate the practice of engineering and technology in the country. Ms Elizabeth Ohene, Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, was present.