28 April, 2019

CHALLENGES AND GREY AREAS IN OUR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS





Ours being a developing country, construction projects are rampant. Every year a huge budget is emphasized for various infrastructure developments. Unfortunately, to get a better quality construction within the scheduled time & budget continues to remain a challenge. One may argue that is a global trend, may be true but we cannot remain complacent as we belong to a society where recourses are limited. We are not rich enough yet our farsighted and visionary leaders never restrict construction projects. Therefore, it is time if, not late to think twice and ensure the most effective utilization of our limited resources. Time is now to learn from the past and equip us with better tools and techniques. It is never impossible if all the stakeholders work together in close coordination with a basic integrity at heart. The following are some of the key areas where we need to look into:

1.    Adequate Planning
Having a well-developed project plan is one of the critical factors for project success. Traditionally, adequate project planning is often ignored and the value of a project plan to save time, money and many problems is not realized during the initial stage. Therefore, it is important to have adequate planning to keep construction project from hitting a standstill during the implementation stage. Client and Consultant need to work together to freeze the scope of work, approval of drawings & designs, obtaining statutory clearances and many more. This would facilitate uninterrupted implementation and other issues during the construction stage.

All relevant contract clauses including the completeness of item of works in Bill of Quantity, precise cost estimates and contract duration must be well defined. Sometimes, with intend to save cost the projects are often awarded to the lowest evaluated bidders without adequate assessment on reasonability, capabilities, past performance and ethical behavior of bidder(s). Some bidders would quote far below the client's estimate in order to get the work awarded but would face difficulties during the project execution. I am not trying to generalize all our contractors; there are some who are doing quite well. As a contractor, misquoting a job estimate can be massively detrimental. In some developed countries bidders whose quotations are the highest and the lowest for a particular project are disqualified for evaluation/award of work to discourage them from quoting too high or too low. It may be worth an idea to give a thought, as it looks applicable in our system too.
    2. Role of Client and Contractor
The Client must ensure a prompt decision and timely payment to Contractor. Contractors should not suffer due to delayed decision, payment or vague instruction. Any attempt for corrupt practice or undesired action by Client's representative(s) must be promptly reported to the appropriate office and vice versa. Both the Client and Contractor must remain bonded by a jointly signed Integrity Pact submitted during the submission of bids. The Management while facilitating the project management team with the sought decisions and resources must also remain as watchdog but should avoid undue or too much interference as it leads to project failure or delays, this is quite unhealthy.

Quality of work is something that cannot be compromised for anything. All bidders must quote their price with reasonable profit margin. And, once the work is awarded Contractor must adhere to the quality requirement within the norms and parameters in the contract. Today, our institutions like Royal Audit Authority and Anti Corruption Commission are doing a marvelous job. A provision in contract has to be there to invite such institutional bodies to construction site, ad-hoc and at any time during the construction period to check how diligently the works are carried out and any unethical practice.

    3. Conclusion
Well! Not all stakeholders in construction industries are bad but neither all are good. Therefore, we need to realign our mindset wherever required. The daunting task in the field of project management is to achieve quality, cost and progress without compromising one for other two. We can make it happen, as it is not impossible.

Lastly, as much as budget and quality of work are, delays are never a good thing. When a job is behind the schedule, it impacts the next scheduled project. With collective concern for the limited resources we have, let us make our construction practices efficient for betterment of now and future.