Upholding Scale of Fees in Surveying Profession

A profession is an occupation founded on specialized education training with the main objectives being supplying the said skill to would be consumers or such other persons or parties that would be interested in the said skills.

In some cultures, the term is used to describe a particular social stratum of well educated workers who enjoy considerable work autonomy and are engaged in creative and intellectually challenging work.

The etymology and historical meaning of the term “professional” has something to do with having professed one’s vows and to confess on the same. Thus as people become more and more specialized in their trade and skills, they began to profess their skills to others and vow to perform their trade and skill to the highest known standards. The point here is that, professionalism has biblical connotation in the sense that one is professing on his/her skills…. That beyond those skills you can only look for divine intervention. Major attributes of an occupation identified as a profession include:

  1. An occupation becoming a full time means of livelihood.
  2. The establishment of a training school all the way to the university.
  • The establishment of a professional association.
  1. The establishment of state licensing laws for the purpose of regulating the said practice and occupation.

From the foregoing, it is clear that a professional is a member of a profession who earns their living from a specified professional activity. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the necessary skills in order to perform these specialized roles. In addition, professionals are subject to strict codes of conduct that includes rigorous ethical and moral obligations. These standards of practice and ethics are typically agreed upon and upheld by the professional organizations.

My concern in this paper is how the professionals earn their living. How they earn their living more often than not can determine the integrity of the profession in the eyes of the membership and the general public. When persons who works in a professional field provides services, they often charge a professional fee depending on the value and nature of the service. This fee may be charged on certain agreed parameters. For the surveying profession there is a scale of fees that guides the practice. This scale of fees is part of the professional practice and if not adhered to can collapse an entire profession. There is a school of thought that believes that professionals should not be tied to any fee structure…. that the market should dictate the fees charged. This in my view compromises the entire profession by allowing unhealthy competition and under-cutting within the profession. In my opinion, unregulated fee structure is a sure way of corrupting professions and undermining service delivery.

The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act 2015 recognizes this fact and exempts regulated professions from this art of undermining each other. The Law requires professionals to adhere to scale fees when tendering professional services. Section 5 (i) of the Act states that the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2015 shall prevail in all matters relating to procurement in Kenya except in cases where the procurement of professional services is governed by an Act of Parliament applicable for such services. In this case, the Kenyan Law on procurement recognizes the need to respect regulated professions on matter of fees if the standards of the professions are to be upheld. In Section 80 (2) of the said Act, the Law requires the tender committee in their evaluation procedures to follow the criteria as set out in their tender documents but for the tenders dealing with professional services to have due regard to statutory instruments issued by the relevant professional associations regarding regulations of fees chargeable for services rendered. This again underscores the importance of the scale of fees in regulated professions for purposes of maintaining and upholding professionalism in this country. Section 86 (i) (d) further emphasizes this point ….. that the successful tender for professional services shall be the tender with the highest technical score where the tender is to be evaluated based on procedures regulated by an Act of Parliament which provides guidelines for arriving at applicable professional charges.

My argument in this paper is that professional fees should be adhered to and respected by all. We have to remember how much schooling goes into becoming a professional like a Surveyor, Doctor, Lawyer, Accountant, Engineer etc.  It is an expensive and time-consuming journey. Most of these professions are complex and difficult. There is no incentive to go through all that schooling, giving up your most prime years of life and then you end up not respecting yourselves. There is no substitute for a Surveyor, Lawyer, Accountant, Engineer, Doctor and all those other professionals when you really need one. It is my humble opinion and submission that you will only appreciate the need to uphold professional scale of fees when caught up with professional negligence matters in cases where you literally “charged nothing”. At that point the Law becomes Law and one wishes they knew but it is usually too late in the day and you end up suffering the consequences……as often said, choices have consequences. Let us all stand up and uphold our professional dignity by respecting the professional charges as laid out in our various gazetted scale fees. United we stand and divided we disintegrate. If petrol stations can respect their agreed prices, so are taxi cabs, bars, transport industry and countless other traders…. It is time that we brought order to our surveying profession by doing what is right.

Elephants are well known to all of us. They carry with them ivory which is the envy of everyone more so the poachers……. but the elephants do not know the worth of their ivory nor do they care. For the surveying profession, time has come for us to appreciate the worth of our profession and we all should guard the same as our precious ivory. The non-adherence to the set –out and agreed fees structure is the surest way to professional quackism” and downgrade of the entire profession.

By Dr.Dr. Humphrey Kimani Njuguna, Ph.D Law; Ph.D Entrep.(Former Chairman ISK 1999-2003)