Govt must regulate engineering practice – expert

President of the Ghana Institution of Engineers, Magnus Lincoln Quarshie, has cautioned against delays in regulating engineering practice in the country.

Ing Quarshie says millions of Ghana Cedis are lost and many preventable deaths occur through market fires, collapsing buildings and flooding due to failing engineering works and services.

He cited poor sanitation in parts of the country as a consequence of worsening engineering works.

Ing. Lincoln Quarshie made these known during a media interaction on ways the Ghana Institution of Engineers can assist in improving engineering works in the country in the light of loss of lives and property usually blamed on shoddy engineering services.

In March a seven-storey building under construction collapsed at Nii Boi Town in Accra, leaving one person dead and another seriously injured.

A Methodist Church building at Sakaman, a suburb of Accra, which was also under construction collapsed on July 19, last year, injuring one worker.

A six-storey shopping centre belonging to Melcom collapsed at Achimota in Accra on November 7, 2012. The incident left 14 people dead, while 68 sustained various degrees of injury.

The country has recorded numerous market fires blamed mainly on illegal and obsolete electrical wiring.

 “Although there has been no official public disclosure of the causes of most of the above disasters that have become a regular occurrence in Ghana, one need not be a rocket scientist to identify that, something is not right with engineering practice in Ghana”, Ing. Quarshie said.

Regarding what pertains in other jurisdictions, Ing. Quarshie said that in many developed countries such as Italy, Spain and America collapse of a structure may immediately lead to the querying and possibly, arrest of the Engineering Practitioners (Professional Engineers, Engineering Technologist, Craftsmen) involved with the design and supervision of works.

In Ghana however, no one is questioned and no one is held responsible for professional negligence, he said.

 “Every developed country or society is underpinned by discipline, great engineering works, great engineering services and a strictly regulated engineering practice. What we in Ghana have not fully appreciated is the fact that Ghana like all developing countries, spends a huge proportion of its investments on engineering works and engineering services such as construction of roads, power plants, telecommunication, water plants, schools, hospitals etc. The returns from these investments remain in doubt as the human development indices do not seem to improve proportionally”, the President of Ghana Engineers added.

Ing. Magnus Lincoln Quarshie revealed that any Country that does not regulate the practice of engineering stands to lose not only money but also human life.

Most often than not, when a medical doctor makes a mistake, one human life is lost but when an engineer makes a mistake, the chances are that many people will die.

“The Ghana Institution of Engineers is among the oldest professional bodies in Ghana. The laws of Ghana require that all Engineering Practitioners must be registered and licensed to practice. Unfortunately like many laws on our books, this is not being enforced. Unqualified persons therefore get awarded engineering jobs and when there are obvious engineering failures, no one gets penalized. Registered Engineers conduct themselves unprofessionally and no one questions them either”, he noted.

The benefits of regulating engineering practice as provided by NLCD 143 and ACT 819 are many.

Proper regulation involves registration of professional engineers, engineering technologists, technician engineers and craftsmen, as well issuance of key directives and standards.

Currently, hiring a craftsman like a mason, electrician welder etc becomes a big gamble, he said.

“Unlike some jurisdictions where all manner of craftsmen are registered and regulated and thus the general public has a fair idea what to expect such is not the case in Ghana. Effective regulation ensures improved quality of work and service through continuous trade development. Craftsmen receive instructions on new technologies and apply this knowledge to their trade for the benefit of society. On the other hand this creates the platform for the tax widening bracket and allows the tax obligations of each practitioner to be better monitored”, the President of Ghana Institution of Engineers reiterated.

Regulated engineering practice helps to reduce shoddy work as the practitioner can be traced to a professional body and disciplined accordingly.

It also ensures that practitioners continue to improve their knowledge and skills to remain relevant.

There is increased value for money from engineering and crafts works and services as Engineering Practitioners act more responsibly.

[Posted by GN]

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