This year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Ghana (IETGh) has taken place in Accra.

The theme for the meeting was The EngineerA catalyst for the successful implementation of the Engineering Regulations.

The occasion was also used to induct about 50 new members into the engineering institution.

Addressing participants, Engr. Eric Atta-Sonno, President, IETGh, urged Ghanaians to stop patronizing conventional building materials at the expense of credible and cheaper locally-available substitutes or alternatives.

Engr. Atta-Sonno noted that currently, the unavailability of urban unencumbered land, rising cost of urban land, design of houses (economic utilisation of spaces for optimum functionality, lack of municipal services and public infrastructure, high cost of housing financing, absence of national policy direction and the non-utilisation of locally-available building materials had been identified as the challenges to the provision of affordable housing.

He said 70% of the cost of housing went into materials and labour, while 90% of the materials were imported from abroad.

However, he said, research had proven that the use of locally-available building materials could lead to the driving down the cost of house construction; the creation of new job opportunities along the housing value chain for artisans, technicians and businesses in the sale of local materials, among others, and the bridging of the housing deficit within the shortest possible time.

Engr. Atta-Sonno cited examples of different types of buildings in Ghana―the Nandom Catholic Church; Methodist Church in Palladium, Accra; Ashesi University, Presbyterian Church in Larteh; Wooden Bungalows in University of Cape Coast; Ghana Christian International High School; and the Rhabshold Ltd. Estate Houses in Ashongman, Accra― that had been constructed using locally-available building materials.

He added that Regulation 29 and Schedules 3 of the National Building Regulation, 1996 (LI 1630) made room for the utilization of locally-available building materials such as Stabilized Earth Blocks, consisting of pozzolana cement, natural stone, brick and tile, bituminous materials, timber (wood) and bamboo.

He, therefore, challenged engineering practitioners to champion the cause of promoting the usage of locally-available building materials.

Engr. Atta-Sonno reminded engineering practitioners of their roles in the promotion of locally-available building materials.

These, he said, included the dentification and characterization of locally-available raw materials; dissemination of production technology; promotion of  the use of basic equipment, implements and tools; stimulating community participation and self-help principles in house construction; provision of corrective measures in the utilisation of improved earth blocks; improving the working of concrete and binding agents; helping to address the issue of right storage of building materials; and ensuring that the required policies and implementation roll-out were in place.

IETGh is a Professional Body, first registered as the Ghana Institution of Technician Engineers under the Professional Bodies Registration Decree (NRCD 143) 1973 on the 30th of May, 1986.

The Institution later rebranded to the ‘Institution of Incorporated Engineers’ on the 27th of August, 1996 and then to the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Ghana to conform to global trends in the engineering profession.

IETGh derives its membership from the Mechanical, Civil, Automotive, Marine, Aviation, Electrical, Electronics, Chemical, Construction, Building and Allied engineering professions, and is mandated by law to register Professional Engineers, Professional Engineering Technologists, Engineering Technicians and Craftsmen.

Currently, the two engineering professional bodies licensing engineering practitioners in Ghana are IETGh and the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE) which together form the Engineering Council under the Engineering Council Act, 2011 (Act 819).

Source: G.D. Zaney, Esq.