Hire only Accredited Engineers

26/05/2017 10:07

With Fiji’s economy projected to grow by 3.8 percent in 2017, it is expected that a lot more builders, engineers and other professional service providers are needed to meet the demands of the booming construction sector.

But for consumers, especially when they are building or repairing, altering structures or buying a new home, one group of professionals they are likely to consult are engineers. It is seen that consumer confidence in the marketplace has led many consumers to invest in property market.

On the bottom line, we have a high expectation that an engineer will provide a professional service firmly grounded in certain technical standards and best practice.

As most aspects of our lives have become more complicated, specialised and ‘technologised’, we as consumers have come to place a great amount of trust in professional service providers like engineers, architects, surveyors and so forth to safeguard our interest. But a degree of vigilance is also necessary. There are engineers and other professional service providers who mislead consumers by making untrue or unsubstantiated claims about their services and products or their professional standing.

The cost of engaging an engineer to provide such important documents such as cyclone certificates and reports can be quite substantial, if one is investing in a new home. An engineer’s cyclone certificate or mark of approval about the cyclone worthiness of a house is the significant document that insurance providers rely on when deciding whether or not that house is worthy of cover. Thus, the role of the engineer becomes crucial when a new home buyer or builder has to rely on a home loan, which in turn requires some form of insurance.

In the past, the Council raised awareness that certain engineers were making false claims on their certificates and reports. While the Council was not in a position to judge the technical or engineering accuracy of the reports, it was nevertheless concerned that these engineers seemed to be falsely claiming to be members of the Fiji Institute of Engineers (FIE). Evidence the Council received showed three engineers signing off and certifying building inspection reports and cyclone certificates, although they were not registered with FIE. They further misled consumers by representing themselves as FIE members. Yet FIE confirmed with the Council that the three were neither current members nor holders of any accreditation by the institute. Nor did they appear in the Insurance Council of Fiji’s List of Approved Engineers to issue Cyclone Engineers Certificates.

It is illegal, under Section 77 of the Commerce Commission Decree 2010, to make false or misleading representation about a particular product or service.

The FIE is the only locally recognised body representing Engineering Professionals in Fiji and it is governed by a Council which is appointed by its members at its Annual General Meeting. FIE also has disciplinary role and it can discipline its members if there is any breach of Code of Ethics.

It is a huge risk to consumers who unknowingly engage an unregistered engineer. Consumers engaging an engineer for insurance purposes need to know that they must ensure that the engineer is in the Insurance Council of Fiji’s list of approved engineers. And the means to check is close at hand. If the engineer makes a claim that he or she is a member of the FIE, consumers have only to check the FIE website for the list of current members: http://engineersfiji.org.fj/membership/current.htm. Consumers can also contact Consumer Council to find out if there have been any complaints against the engineer which you intend to engage.

It is your responsibility as a consumer to determine the professional that best meets the requirements for your project. Consider experience and qualifications as well as cost when making your selection. After all, careful selection of the licensed engineer best suited for your project, and clear communication in the beginning, is the foundation of a successful project.