Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a $31.6 million grant with the Government of China for the development of the proposed new Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) headquarters building in Abuja, the search for critical consultants in the project have begun in earnest.
To pave way for the project, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Brou and the Ambassador of China to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Zhou Pingjian had recently signed for both parties in a bilateral meeting held at the ECOWAS Commission headquarters, Abuja.Under the MoU, China’s will maintain the building three years after completion. The need for a new building for ECOWAS was necessitated by increasing number of staff, which led to the Commission to presently operate from three buildings distance apart from each other.
The agreement, which comes into force with immediate effect will cater for offices and conference complex building, as well as road facilities, electrical equipment, parking lots and security posts within the proposed site of the project.An ECOWAS designated authority and the China Development Bank Corporation will work together to verify records of account payments at regular intervals.
The grant comes as part of China’s commitment to continue to promote the China-ECOWAS friendly cooperation through similar economic and technical cooperation. Already, a design team has already been established to ensure that the building’s architecture reflects the culture and Africaness of ECOWAS Member States. The project is one of other public facilities being undertaken by the Chinese government in sub-Saharan Africa: parliament buildings in Zimbabwe, Congo, Malawi, Guinea-Bissau, and Lesotho. China is also rebuilding burnt parliament buildings in Gabon, and is renovating the parliament building in Sierra Leone. China also built and funded the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa in 2012 at a cost of $200 million.
Essentially, the hiring of consultancy firms to validate the design, assist in the construction of a new ultramodern headquarters and to carry out environmental as well as social impact studies have commenced. One of the firms will assist in the review of architectural and engineering designs for the building and undertake quality assurance/supervisory work of the construction works process to ensure value for money.
The headquarter building is being constructed by a contractor recruited by the Government of China, financiers of the project. Specifically, the consultant firm will monitor the execution of the works according to the technical specification, design drawings and conditions of contract as well as represent the project owner – ECOWAS on site.
The consultant will also coordinate the clearing of the site in coordination with the Chinese project management firm as agreed in the implementation agreement; coordinate and monitor all work for which ECOWAS is responsible for like connecting road, water and fiber to main networks and electrical transformer substation installation.
Similarly, the firm will also monitor daily, on a task by task basis, all activities planned by the Chinese contractor, in conjunction with the Chinese project management firm, to ascertain delays and inconsistencies that may be observed on the schedule.The other consultant firm handling environmental and social impact studies will establish baseline information on both natural and built environment including the socio-economic activities within and without the site relative to the project.
The firm will also identify, evaluate and possibly quantify the direct and indirect positive and negative aspects of the construction project on the biophysical, human and socio-economic environment according to the different phases (preparatory, construction and operation).
Meanwhile, Ministers for Infrastructure, Works and Housing from Member States have adopted a design scheme for the development of a new Headquarters complex.The meeting of the ad-hoc Ministerial Committee on the construction of Community institutions, which held in Abuja, Nigeria, saw their representatives adopt a design scheme in order to commence the development of the final design, which will be produced with the input of the Commission and Member States.
The ECOWAS Commission’s commissioner for General Administration and Conferences Vafolay Tulay, who presented three design schemes to the Ministers, stated that criteria such as site optimization, functionality, safety and security and the requirements of the Commission were taken into account while adopting the design scheme.
The Ministers recommended that the final design of the new Headquarters Complex should not only integrate elements of West African culture but must also comply with international and Nigeria’s standards and specifications of construction.
Furthermore, the Ministers also recommended that the design for the new Headquarters complex should have the expansion of the Commission in view while being developed. ‘The design should take into consideration functionalities and coordination consistent with the needs of the Community’, they said.
The Commissioner for Infrastructure, Pathe Gueye, in his remarks stressed the need for a good coordination between ECOWAS, Nigeria and the Chinese government in order for the project to be executed smoothly.