Growth of towns, cities and urban centers as a result of urbanization has various effects on the geographical as well as socioeconomic platforms of any given society. Industrialization has been the key driving force behind urbanization. As industries grow, urban centers start to develop as a result of supporting the industries and their employees. The need for infrastructure, such as facilities, factories, roads, bridges and housing, necessitates employment of engineers to actualize their development.
Urban sprawl is as a result of rural to urban migration. Many people leave their home areas to go to towns searching for opportunities. The urban centers need to have sufficient housing, public and social amenities to sustain this influx of people. However, the rate of the migration to the urban centers is higher than the rate of growth of the towns themselves.
The need to develop freeways to connect different urban and rural areas is a vital consideration by planners to cut down on the rate of rural-urban migration. The disadvantages are that many people die or get serious injuries in these freeways. Road accidents involving pedestrians, vehicles and other road users are rife. Urban sprawl has led to the development of slums and shanties which provide cheap housing for those who seek it. The growth of slums is mostly unregulated. There is no planning in this regard and more often than not the slums lack even the extremely basic of services such as water and sanitation.
Civil engineers are the professionals tasked with the responsibility of designing and developing most public interest projects such as freeways, vast housing estates and public infrastructure. They conduct feasibility studies and plan for the construction of the projects. They remain at the helm of execution for these projects as ideally everything should be done under their watchful eye.
Ethical problems that may arise for engineers in the course of duty are numerous. Corruption is one of them. Civil engineers are prone to corruption to turn a blind eye on certain matters to cut budgets and so on. These may include budgeting with lower quality but cheaper materials, hiring of non professionals to do professional work and even hiring fewer employees to keep the wage burden low. This may have an effect on the employees’ morale and output.
Balancing environmental concern and profit are also a key component of civil engineering nowadays. The projects have to address environmental concerns by regulators. The engineers need to acquire a license from environmental regulators for them to go ahead with their work. They may sometimes be required to use some of their profits to mitigate on environmental concerns such as recycling, drainage control and many others.
Circumstances that an engineer can be held personally liable for, are personal injury, damage to property or posing a danger to national security as a result of his actions or failure to act. They are determined by the legal regime, mostly statute law and the constitution. In most cases, this may include occupiers’ liability, safety and health legislation and regulation of the engineering profession. An engineer can be held personally liable if his actions were negligent, compromised by corruption or conflict of interest. If his actions constituted a premeditated intention to cause damage to personal property, to injure another individual or groups of individuals, or to compromise national security, he may also be held personally liable (Haukaas, 2008).
Civil engineers need to undertake their work in a transparent, professional manner based on the merits to avoid litigation against their actions. The need to work ethically is absolute and is not an option.