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Since inception of democracy in 1994, the government of the Republic of South Africa has been introducing policies and programmes to ensure economic empowerment. The Black Economic Empowerment initiative was introduced to combat and or reverse past economic inequalities. The main focus of the programme was to empower black in general, Africans in particular. South Africa is predominantly occupied by rural areas; hence the centre of attention is shifted to rural development in terms of empowerment. However, this initiative has been succeeding but there are challenges facing the programme in the sense that those challenges are outweighing the benefits. For example, we have tender entrepreneurs, youth and women who are actively involved in the project or business world and are contributing positively to economic development that will lead to economic growth of the country. Even though we are gradually succeeding in this initiative but the triple challenge still exists which is poverty, unemployment and inequalities. In conclusion, failure to implement projects properly leads to a programme failure hence the need to identify project weaknesses and come up with effective mechanisms is of paramount important.
To investigate the methods of avoiding and managing the rural construction projects failure.
1. To identify the cause of failure on rural construction projects.
There are many reasons why the rural construction projects fail; these reasons are discussed as follow:
1.1 Financial capacity
Lack of capital contributes immensely to project failure. For example, black entrepreneurs are experiencing problem when it comes initiating a project. The majority of these entrepreneurs are entirely depending on ceding their rights to acquire financial assistance from Financial Institutions.
1.2 Lack of Training
There are no practical structures in place that deals with a training of these entrepreneurs in the sense that they entirely depending on their talent or calling to execute the project thoroughly. They lack the aptitude to understand the project principles and actual practically implement those principles which are critical to project success. Even if there is a functioning structure, the maximum participation is inadequate from the side of participants.
1.3 Lack of Accountability
From the side of the community no one is informed enough to question the standard of the project under implementation in the sense that the project leader does his or her will in term of implementing the project. In contrary, there is a lack of monitoring on the side of the government to hold the project leader or implementer accountable.
1.4 Human Resources
There is lack of skilled labourers to implement project successfully. For example, the project entirely depends on the unskilled labourers for implementation. Therefore, it makes life of the project to be difficult. For instance, to an unskilled person it is normally not to question the opinion of the superior, even though he or she knows beyond the reasonable doubt that the opinion is impractical for the project execution.
1.5 Physical Resources
Most of the natural resources that exist are never tested to check the viability before the execution in the sense that they are executed with a no prior testing to check their effectiveness. For example, natural resources such as soil to be used for agricultural cooperatives are used with no prior testing to check their suitability for planting. As result, most of crops do not yield returns because of the above mentioned short coming.
2. To identify the impact of project failure to economic growth
2.1 Increase in the level of poverty
Failure to execute the project successfully will minimise the opportunities of self-sustainability to communities. For example, in the agricultural projects that are meant for cooperatives, failure on the part of the project leader to execute the project successfully will lead to community inability to sustain itself. As a result, the poverty levels will increase as community members will have to purchase from the retailers instead of doing it themselves.
2.2 Increase in the level of unemployment
If the opportunities arise for project execution in a particular location, local labourers from that particular community have exceeding expectations for employment. Therefore, that means at the inception of the project more people will be employed, but as the project gradually fails to be completed those who were employed will be retrenched or redundant.
2.3 Increase in the level of Inequalities
The existence of the project especially the empowerment project is to bridge the gap between those who have and those who have not. Therefore, that means those who have not will have something if the project succeeds, but if the project fails an opposite is applicable or vice visa.
CRITICAL RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. Why rural construction projects often fail?
Rural construction projects often fail for many reasons. Firstly, rural communities lack participation and knowledge to hold project leader or executor accountable. Secondly, there are no monitoring systems in place in the part of government to monitor the progress of the project until completion and hold the project implementer accountable in case of non-performance. Finally, project leaders sometimes produce substandard performance due to lack of expertise and experience to execute the project until its completion.
2. How do we then deal with these rural project failures?
Firstly and foremost, through campaigns for public awareness the level of public participation level will be improved because the public will be aware that they own these projects, the success of the project will be dependent on their active involvement. Secondly, if communities are well trained to improve the level of their competency they will become watch dogs and watch every move of the project that is taken by the contractor to ensure that the standard quality of project is achieved. Thirdly, on the monitoring part of the project there should be a continuous a level of training to familiarize those responsible for monitoring with the development so that they are updated. Finally, on the side of the contractor, there should an alignment of the expertise and the scope of works to ensure that maximum quality is achieved.
SIGNIFICANT OF THE STUDY
Firstly, community participation and involvement in a project is one of the key elements of action research, by proactively and systematically working towards improving the levels of involvement in the various stages of a project, the outcomes are more likely to suit local circumstances and ensure community 'ownership', and increase the sustainability of a project. However, developing and maintaining the participation of stakeholders can often be a challenge requiring various strategies and considerations. Secondly, on the government side the significant of the research helps to identify problem areas and arrive at the corrective measures in order to combat inefficiencies within the system in as far as monitoring is concerned. Finally, the same situation will apply on the part of the contractor or project leader as above in terms of identifying problematic areas that will have an impact on the progress of the project and come up with mechanisms to combat non-performance at an earlier stage of the project.
The research was conducted with several Client Departments such as Department of Roads and Public Works (DRPW), Department of Education (DOE), Health Department (DOH), Social Development Department, Local Government and District Municipality in Alfred Nzo Region, Eastern Cape.
The Department of Roads and Public Infrastructure Managers, Eastern Cape were interviewed on what could be the cause of rural construction project failure such as schools, ECDC (Early Childhood Development Centres, Clinics and Roads since the department does their infrastructure projects in the Eastern Cape Province and District Municipality Infrastructure Programme Managers were also interviewed based on the failure of projects they render to the communities.
IDP meetings are held every month and the District Municipality Infrastructure Programme Manager invites all Interdepartmental Infrastructure Programme Managers to come and report on projects which are either on planning or implementation.
Articles were also used to find other possible ways of minimizing the failure of our rural construction projects.
The success of this initiative is entirely dependent on identifying the problematic areas that are there to hamper the progress of the rural projects. Therefore, positively identifying these problematic areas and effectively coming up with creative mechanisms will ensure the rural project success. In addition, the rural project success will ensure that the government initiative achieves its objectives of ensuring economic development that will ultimately lead to the economic growth. As a result, this growth in economy will positively address the triple challenge that is facing our democratic South Africa.
DRPW Department of Roads and Public Works
DOE Department of Education
DOH Department of Health
DM District Municipality
DOT Department of Transport
IDP Infrastructure Development Program