MASSIVE PUBLIC CONSTRUCTION AND INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

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Dedicated to His Excellency the President of Uganda, government ministries and departments, professionals, the business community, scholars and all those who deal with procurements of construction projects

By Eng Hans JWB Mwesigwa, MSc Eng, MUIPE, Reg Eng

In episode 1, I introduced that Ugandans and many Third World countries often lose value for money due to improper procurement of construction and infrastructure projects, particularly the massive ones. I pointed out that Ugandans lose of value for money in public infrastructure due to lack of information, imagination and innovation. (Ref. www.8mconstruction.com, 8M Construction Digest, Vol 2, 3 and 4).

Furthermore, I attributed it to a generally poor mindset, shown in the inability, failure or sheer neglect by those in government departments, the professionals and the business community to steer by the known laws and regulations for best professional practice.

I elaborated what I would write under the various episodes summarized as:

  1. What “procurement” entails for massive public construction and infrastructure projects.
  2. Value for Money (VFM) in a massive public construction and infrastructure project.
  3. The 8Ms for proper procurement of massive construction and infrastructure projects.
  4. Different procurement methods suitable for planning and implementation of the massive projects.
  5. Phases for proper planning and implementation, summarized as:
  • The needs assessment/pre-feasibility or feasibility studies
  • Deciding the type of procurement method
  • Procurement of the design and implementation team
  • Supervision of the projects
  • Post-construction and maintenance phase

It is important to remember that use of the three ‘I’s of Information, Imagination and Innovation is important in the successful procurements, value for money and using the 8Ms. I therefore often use them in the series.

In this episode, I will:

  • Remind the reader of the word “procurement” in these series;
  • Explain the relevance of value for money and application of the 8Ms in a massive public construction and infrastructure project, while using the three I s of information, imagination and innovation; and
  • Advise on the different procurement methods suitable for planning and implementation massive projects.

Here are some examples of what may pass as massive construction and infrastructure projects done in Uganda before independence:

  • The East African Railway line in Uganda, covering Malaba, Jinja, Kampala and Kilembe;
  • The religious cathedrals of Rubaga, St Paul’s Namirembe and the mosque Kibuli;
  • The Owen Falls Dam (Nalubale) completed in 1954 to control the waters of the Nile and provide hydropower;
  • Extension of the new Mulago Referral Hospital completed in 1962;
  • The Katunguru Bridge, crossing the Kazinga Channel and connecting the then Ankole Kingdom with Tooro Kingdom;
  • The Sheraton Hotel, then called Apollo Milton Hotel, completed in 1964
  • The Bugolobi Sewage System, providing Kampala with sewerage drainage system;
  • Various roads connecting Kampala with Kenya and Rwanda

 

Here are some examples of what may pass as massive construction and infrastructure projects done in Uganda after independence include:

  • The Kiira and Bujagali hydropower projects, completed in the 90s to provide more hydropower;
  • Construction of new district health centres;
  • The Nile Bridge, crossing the Nile at Jinja for road and hopefully rail transport, and yet to be completed;
  • The Serena Hotel, then called Nile Hotel and the International Conference Centre, completed in 1971 as a four-storey building instead of the 22 storeys it was meant to be;
  • The Bugolobi expanded sewage system, providing the expanded Kampala with sewerage drainage means;
  • The Northern Bypass in Kampala started around 90s, currently now under completion
  • The upcoming Standard Rail Gauge upgrading and extension of the East African Railway in Uganda;

 

According to the New Vision of 26th October 2017, page 35. The Inspector General of Government (IGG), Irene Mulyagonja, said that politicians, officials and suppliers are conniving to manipulate the procurement processes for selfish gain through

  • Forged documents;
  • Deliberate late submission of bids so as to complain and delay the process, so that there is a re-run of the bidding;

The IGG also noted that corruption denies the public services they have paid the taxes for. She added that the most common form of procurement corruption in Uganda includes violation of procurement procedures.

What the IGG did not add is that part of the reason for improper procurement may be lack of information, imagination and innovation, leading to failure to read, understand and correctly apply the procurement regulations.

I therefore start by reminding and elaborating on the following:

The 8Ms ( markets, methods, management, money, materials, manpower, machinery, and mindset ), all starting with letter ‘M’ are the factors and tools used to coordinate the successful implementation of value for money and any other projects. (See Eng Hans Mwesigwa’s “The 8Ms in Construction and beyond,” page 7-9 of the maiden issue of the 8M Construction Digest. See also www.8mconstruction.com).

We get Value for Money (VFM) in a public construction and infrastructure project when

the 4Es of effectiveness, efficiency, economy and equity are obtained.

In my considered opinion, the four as stated should be in the order of precedence as follows:

Effectiveness to mean that the intended results of the constructed object are achieved. As an obvious example, it is no point designing efficiently and economically a housing apartment when this was meant to be a hotel. This is brought out well if a needs assessment is carried out to the letter. It would probably mean that the project team lacked information and imagination. It also means that the team did not consider well the markets factor to define a feasible and viable project that can be marketed as a hotel as originally conceived in the needs assessment and not as an apartments block for residential use. The mindset factor of setting the team’s mind to do the correct thing is also questionable. The management factor of overall planning on the objectives of the project and laying a strategy on how to implement it would also be questionable.

Efficiency means the intended object is done properly, thoroughly, to the letter, with quality and no wastage of resources of materials, money, energy and time. This is brought well if professionalism is well applied in the art of technical planning, design and construction supervision. As an example, all other factors are constant, if a tall structure has columns of 750mm in diameter and the same materials of steel, cement and sand and a similar building has a column of only 600mm, then the latter one is not considered efficient as there is wastage of materials, money and time. With efficiency in place, economy is easier to achieve.  The project team, led by the design consultant, needs to use the professional methods of planning, design and construction supervision and utilize appropriate materials, manpower and machinery to create efficiency. Again, command of the relevant information, coupled with high imagination and innovation is applied by the successful team.

Economy means the use of least materials, energy, money and other resources, such that efficiency and effectiveness are maintained.  The factors of management and money are paramount as they are used in conjunction with methods, management, manpower and machinery to ensure that the cost of the project is least, while retaining the best possible project quality within the least time of implementation. As an example, there are instances when a more costly concrete block may be left out for a cheaper clay brick, if the latter fulfils the specifications for strength, safety, fire resistance, sound insulation and any other desired parameters.

 

Equity means other environmental and legal considerations are considered and achieved. As an example, construction should be legally done to serve the people living with disability and conserve the environment. Again the various 8Ms such as management and mindset are called for in managing this factor.

Another way of looking at value for money is to ask the question: Are the resources (usually money) earmarked for the project adequate, inadequate or excessive?

According to Wikipedia, “procurement” is the process of finding, agreeing terms and acquiring goods, services or works from an external source, often via a tendering or competitive bidding process. The process is used to ensure the buyer receives goods, services or works at the best possible price, when aspects such as scope, quality, quantity, time, and location are compared. Governments, corporations and public bodies often define processes intended to promote fair and open competition for their business while minimizing risk, such as exposure to fraud and collusion.

Procurement in this context refers to the entire process of the technical planning, design and construction supervision of a construction and public infrastructure project, including the selection and employment of the consultants, contractors and any other relevant services providers implementing the project.

In most massive construction and public infrastructure projects, Government is invariably the client. Other parties are the designers and contractors, clothed in various names depending on the method of procurement. This now calls for methods of procurements, which many times affect implementation of massive projects. Each method has its detailed procedure for using it, thus exposing the advantages and disadvantages of using it.

Below are notable methods that are in use, details of which will be discussed at length in the next episodes.

Summary of the different procurement methods suitable for the proper procurement of massive construction:

  • Traditional
  • Design and build
  • Build, operate and transfer (BOT)
  • Management (contract) concession
  • Turnkey
  • Joint venture
  • Others

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