The Difficulties Faced By Contractors Engaged Construction Essay

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The difficulties faced by building contractors in community based developmental projects result in the failure of a number of construction projects according to the 2012

KwaZulu Natal Public Works annual review.

In the Ilovu Kingsburgh Primary School construction project which is the basis of this report, most of the difficulties faced were due to political disputes within community members, Contractor obligation to engage inexperienced community members and unrealistic expectations in terms of employment by the community.

This report does not dwell much on the difficulties encountered due to mismanagement and incompetency on the contractor�s project team but rather those encountered upon engagement with the community.

This report focuses mainly on unveiling the difficulties including the core origins of the problems faced by Rambros Construction in the construction of the Kingsburgh Primary School situated in Ilovu and also to compare such difficulties to other projects recently completed in the area. The main objective is to uncover the constant difficulties within the different projects and where applicable propose recommendations such as whether or not to engage sub-contractors and employ community members directly which can be useful to both the community and the building contractors in avoiding strikes as a result of corrupt sub-contractors.

This research report focuses on the contractors based in community based projects with the bases of the report being the construction of the Kingsburgh Primary School in the Ilovu area.

1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT

The Ilovu B section area is an emerging peri-urban society which is in the process of transformation which is evident by the developmental projects ongoing in the area.

In all the projects that have taken place recently including ongoing projects , there has been major conflict between the Contractor/Project Implementation Agents and community members of which has caused major backlogs in the various projects especially in the construction of the Kingsburgh Primary School.

1.2.1 Main Problem

South Africa is currently faced with major adversities in the successful delivery of developmental projects caused by various factors such as corruption , inadequate skills capacity and poor funding to mention a few.

In my opinion of which is the core of this research report, one of the major cause of project failure would be poor implementation at which the community is fully engaged at the preliminary stage so as to avoid future conflicts between the contractor .

The Contractor/Implementation Agent also needs to understand the community at an early stage so as to be aware of what the community has to offer in terms of the required skills for the project.

In the construction of the Kingsburgh Primary School some of the community members felt as if they were being sidelined from the project as major decisions regarding their interests were made on their behalf such as the election of the community liaising officer and the decision made by the councilor and the contractor�s employer not to engage a community project committee to look after the interest of the people by creating a peaceful working relationship between the community members and the contractor. These are the major problems that created a very hostile relationship between the community members and the contractor of which gave rise to other subordinate problems.

1.2.2 Subordinate Problems

The problem statement does not aim to address a single situation but rather various problems which stem from the main problem.

In the construction of the Kingsburgh Primary School, Phakanywayo Creche, Mawanda Community Hall, Mkhandlwini Sportsfield , Ungandezi Clinic and Madlopha Market Stalls the contractor and the community members found themselves in a volatile relationship which brought about unnecessary disputes caused by various factor such as:

i) Promotion of vested interests such as the community member�s political interests in efforts to sabotage the project.

ii) The contractor�s difficulties and contract obligation to engage inexperienced community members and also community subcontractors due to poor project funding.

iii) Communication breakdown and inadequate client/community engagement.

iv) Violence.

v) Project Delays.

vi) Poor Construction.

vii) Rebellious reaction resulting in theft.

1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

This research report aims to prove that community members including all their differences and political endeavors to disengage themselves in developmental projects due to individual interests can cause major backlogs in the contractors efforts to complete a project in due time.

By using futures methodology in the form of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) of which according to Rober Chambers, 1992, The term PRA describes a growing family of approaches and methods to enable local people to share,enhance and analyse their knowledge of life and conditions ,to plan and to act.

Through the identification and the inclusion of key personnel within the Ilovu area to work towards better project implementation , a methodical approach has to implemented and also has to cater for both the contractor and the client in the best interest of the community members and the political leaders within the community ,who play a major role in decision making.

1.3.1 Scope of this study

This research report will investigate through comparison of contractors who have previously completed projects within the Ilovu area with the contractor currently under contract to construct the Kingsburgh Primary School to reach common ground as to the factors causing poor relationship with the community members for better progress of construction projects.

The Participatory Rural Appraisal Methodology will be used as reference and suggested as recommendation for future project implementation so as to avoid future difficulties faced by contractors engaged in community based projects and also as a remedy for other contractors faced with similar difficulties in South Africa. The Participatory Rural Appraisal will not be discussed in detail as it would cause a diversion from the current research topic but rather as a basis for intervention .

1.3.2 Impact and Value

This research will help contractors who find themselves in hostile relationships when engaged in community development projects. It will also be an explanatory guide during initial implementation of community projects.

The research will have a positive impact on the contractors engaged in community projects especially in the peri-urban and rural areas as the people from such areas often respond negatively to developmental projects.

1.4 BACKGROUND : KINGSBURGH PRIMARY SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION

The construction of Kingsburgh Primary School is a R28 855 000.00 project which commenced on the 13th of February 2012 with a contract duration of eighteen months. The main contractor is Rambros Construction cc with the principal agent being COEGA

Thathuka funded by KwaZulu Natal Public Works

1.4.1 Employment Distribution

The above graph shows the employment distribution of the project. The project initially had four sub-contractors under the main contractor (Rambros Construction) of which were employed from the community to do brickwork, plastering, bagging, screeding and paintworks. Out of the four contractors, only one possessed adequate skill and experience to carry out the works as the other contractors failed as a result of mismanagement, lack of planning and lack of experience.

The main contractor also employed twenty six general workers from the community and three externally apart from those employed by the sub-contractors out of which only four were women.

1.4.2 Project Committee

The councilor provided Rambros Construction with a Community Liasing Officer without any prior consultation with the community members or representatives.

This was done so as to timeously commence with the construction of the school in the hopes of speeding the construction process so that the school would be operational for the beginning of the year 2013 yet the contract was set to be completed by August 2013.The project committee was not appointed rather a Community Liaising Officer was employed to carry out the similar duties of a community project committee.

1.4.3 Difficulties during Construction

The major technical difficulty that the contractor faced apart from the difficulties associated with the community members was the hard rock that was uncovered in the foundations of which caused a two month delay on the project and a 7% escalation on the original construction cost.

This resulted in complex foundation designs as a result of explosives used to blast through the hard rock whereas other parts of the platforms required deeper excavations due to the clay profile of the soil. These difficulties gave rise to major conflicts as the main contractor had already employed local sub-contractors to do brickwork and foundation reinforced concrete footings. The local sub-contractors did not possess the necessary skills to undertake such works yet they failed to make such known to the main contractor.

1.4.4 Community Expectations

The Ilovu community had major expectations in terms of employment yet the contractor employed 75% of local community members and payment expectations of which when compared with the project budget were unrealistic. The general workers requested a 30% wage increase after they had just worked for two months and had initially agreed on a 25% wage increase after a period of eight months working for the current contractor.

The high community expectations were a result of the community members being uninformed about the change the project was to bring to the community and as a result, this raised a negative attitude amongst the community members and the contractor. The community members felt as if they possessed all the power to influence the decision making of the project either by iron fist or mass strike.

1.4.5 Political Influences

During the commencement of the construction works, the community members had already been engaged in political conflicts in promotion of vested interests as most of the community members raised comments of corruption of the current councilor as noted by the Rambros Construction foreman during the weekly site meetings.

As a result of such comments, most of the community members believed that some individuals were engaged in endeavors to sabotage the progress of the project in efforts to bring into disrepute the name of the current councilor and mayor as it is their duties to ensure that all current developmental projects run smoothly up until the final hand over, making sure that the community does not interfere with the contractors progress unless they are justifiably being treated unfairly.

1.5 FINDINGS

1.5.1 Data collection from questionnaires distributed to five contractors.

Table 1: list of 5 comparable projects

Project No Ward Name of project Type of Project Project Status

1 6 Phakanywayo Creche Classroom Block Construction Completed

2 8 Mawanda Community Hall House Construction Completed

3 4 Mkhandlwini Sportsfield Recreational Facility and new grass Completed

4 3 Ungandezi Clinic Block Room Construction Completed

5 6 Madlopha Market Stalls Facebrickwork Construction with Roller Shutter doors Completed

Table 2: Responses from the 5 contractors

QUESTIONS? Phakanywayo Creche Mawanda Community Hall Mkhandlwini Sportsfield Ungandezi

Clinic Madlopha

Market Stalls

POOR PROJECT INITIATION/IMPLEMENTATION AGREE STRONGLY AGREE AGREE STRONGLY AGREE STRONGLY AGREE

UNREALISTIC COMMUNITY MEMBER EXPECTATIONS DISAGREE AGREE NEUTRAL STRONGLY AGREE AGREE

NEGATIVE POLITICAL INFLUENCES AGREE AGREE AGREE AGREE STRONGLY AGREE

LOGISTICAL PROBLEMS DISAGREE DISAGREE DISAGREE AGREE DISAGREE

INADEQUATE BUDGET DUE TO DELAYED IMPLEMENTATION DISAGREE DISAGREE DISAGREE DISAGREE DISAGREE

INCOMPETENT LABOUR STRONGLY AGREE AGREE STRONGLY AGREE STRONGLY AGREE STRONGLY

AGREE

UNAVAILABILITY OF SKILLED LABOUR IN THE LOCALITY AGREE AGREE AGREE DISAGREE DISAGREE

Table 2 illustrates the affirmative responses of the contractors and an analysis according such responses summarized to whether they a strongly agreed, agreed, disagreed or strongly disagreed with the question in the vertical axis.

Table 3: Description of other identified risks.

Insufficient supervision Irregular supervision by technical officers led to poor work corrected late or not corrected at all.

Lack of technical advice Lack of clarity on the requirements for the project led to acquisition and preparation of wrong

materials not meeting the standard engineering specifications

Lack of consensus Communities� failure to reach consensus on need and type of project led to some members

not fully participating in the project

1.5.2 Community Member�s Responses.

Table 1: List f participants

PARTICIPANTS WARD

AMANDA MAZIBUKO 6

ANELE RONNOTI 6

ANELISA GUMEDE 8

APHIWE DLULLA 8

APHELELE NOZINTI 6

ASIPHE DLAMINI 6

BONGANI NGEMA 4

BONISO MADLOPHA 4

BALISO DLANGAMANDLA 3

DUMISANI NGOZI 3

DUNGA DUMIZULU 3

ERNEST NGCOBO 3

ESETHU NGUBANE 6

ESIHLE XANTI MAMELA 8

FIKA MTHWESI 8

GABASHE MKHONTO 8

GEDEZA ZULU 6

HLANTLA NALEDI MOTO 6

HLUMISA NGCOBO 6

JONGIKHAYA GWELETHA 3

KHULU BATALA 3

LINDILE NZIMANE 3

LELETHU NDAMASE 4

LULO GXABASHE 4

LUZUKO NKANDE 4

MLUNGISI NGUBANE 6

NOMPILO DLAMINI 8

NOZINTLE MAZIBUKO 6

NOMCEBO MPONTSHANE 6

PHUMZILE NGCOBO 4

Table 2: Findings from issued questionnaires

The above table indicates the analysis of the responses of community members where a high percentage indicates that most of the community members were in discontent with the topics in the vertical axis of the bar graph where most were unhappy about being not fully engaged in the initiation phase , most felt that the ongoing disputes were also a result of wage dissatisfaction and the political influences of which had a very negative impact in the construction of Kingsburgh Primary School including the other comparable projects.

1.6 RECOMMENDATIONS

� A community project committee should be engaged at an early stage of the project, preferably immediately after the project hand over date prior commencement of the construction works. The community should also be notified and made fully aware of the project well before the handover date.

� The Principal Agent/Project Implementation Agent should also carry out a feasibility study of the community during the preliminary stage of the project so as to uncover in advance the community profile and try to uncover any difficulties that could affect the project in the long run whether it being financially, socially, politically or any environmental factors that could bring about challenges. For the Project Implementation Agent to fully analyze and engage the community , they need to fully familiarize themselves with the Participatory Rural Appraisal Methodology(PRA)

� In most cases the community project committee is responsible for recruiting skilled labour but often they lack the skill to recruit proper labour and therefore for a way forward the committee should involve a professional from the employer�s team to assist them during the recruiting process so as to avoid poor workmanship as a result of incompetent labour.

� Due to the fact that the community of Ilovu had insufficient skilled labour and inexperienced subcontractors who were unable to fully utilize their recourses (labour, financial and management capacity), it is therefore recommended that the main contractor should exclude subcontractors from such community and engage skilled personnel with the ability to mentor the community members directly so as to better their knowledge and understanding of their designated trades.

1.7 CONCLUSION

As noted from the difficulties encountered by Rambros Construction and various other contractors within the Ilovu area, it is evident that community engagement, unskilled labour, political disputes and wage disputes were the core factors causing backlogs in project progress.

In the construction of the Kingsburg Primary School situated in the Ilovu area the contractor found himself in a rather adverse and hostile relationship with the community members due to poor project implementation that gave rise to reluctant community members towards the project. This attitude gave rise to other surboninate problems discussed in the report of which on their own would have to be fully researched on a separate report. Therefore when dealing with people especially in peri-urban and rural areas, the main focus should be on communication as it plays a vital role in understanding different diversities in order to formulate a plan of approach to solve or to bring about solutions to a problem.

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