28 April, 2019

CHALLENGES AND GREY AREAS IN OUR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS





Being a developing country, construction projects are rampant. Every year a huge budget is emphasised for various infrastructure developments. Unfortunately, to get a quality construction within a scheduled time & budget continues to remain as challenge. Our recourses are limited. We are not rich yet our farsighted and visionary leaders never restrict construction projects. Therefore, it is time to think and ensure the most effective utilisation of our limited resources. Time is now to learn from the past and equip with better tools and techniques. It is possible if all stakeholders work together with basic integrity and professionalism. The following are some of the key areas where we need to look into:

Planning
Having a well-developed project plan is one of the critical factors in project management. Traditionally, our project planning is inadequate. A good plan in place saves time, money and many other problems. Therefore, adequate planning is vital to avoid complications during 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.

All relevant contract clauses including the completeness in the item of works under Bill of Quantity, cost estimates and contract duration must be well defined. Projects are often awarded to the lowest evaluated bidders without much assessment on reasonability, capabilities, past performance and ethical behaviour of bidder(s). Some bidders would quote far below the client's estimate in order to get the work but would face difficulties during the project execution. 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. This is to discourage bidders 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
A Client must ensure a prompt decision and timely payment to their Contractor(s). Contractors should not suffer due to delayed decision, payment or vague instruction. Any attempt for corrupt practice / undesired action by Client's representative(s) must be reported promptly to the appropriate office and vice versa. Both the Client and Contractor must remain bonded by a jointly signed Integrity Pact that is required to be 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. The management should avoid undue or over-interference as it leads to project failure or delays, this is quite unhealthy.

Quality of work should not 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 marvellous job. A provision in contract has to be there to invite such institutional bodies to check for quality of work.

    3. Conclusion
Well! Not all the 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 good. When a job is behind the schedule, it impacts the next scheduled project. With concern for our limited resources, let us make our construction practices efficient for the betterment of now and future.