Source: By: Anthony Sedzro
Over the years, the construction industry has seemingly been given undue liberality, without appropriate thought of its real role and value in the development of Ghana. Consequently, Ghana’s infrastructure deficiency has continued to worsening hence heightening the need for the establishment of proper regulation and monitoring for the sector. It is against this sad background that the 145-page book written by Dr. Joseph K. Ofori-Kuragu, Professor Bernard K. Baiden and Professor Edward Baduis being hailed as coming at the right time proffering solutions and not just enumerating challenges.
Honourable Kwasi Amoako-Atta, the Minister for Roads and Highways says the government has stepped up a nationwide monitoring of road contractors to ensure their workload is properly managed.
This, according to the Hon. Amoako-Atta, will ensure the contractors undertake their projects to quality standards and that the citizens, in turn, get value for money on those road projects. In addition, strict performance systems will be used to evaluate those projects.
This is in the light of complaints from Ghanaians about some road contractors doing shoddy jobs while others abandon construction projects altogether.
He was speaking at the launch of a book on Ghana’s construction industry titled “TRANSFORMING CONSTRUCTION – An action agenda for enabling world-class construction and infrastructure development for accelerated industrialisation” at the Alisa Hotel, Accra on November 2, 2017.
“The ministry will step up its nationwide monitoring activities to ensure that the contractor’s workload is fairly distributed and properly managed to produce the exact results,” the Minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for the Atiwa West constituency, said.
“Contractors will take up what their capacity can absorb. We will do this through what we call Contractor’s Workload Analysis for it to be properly carried out to its logical conclusion,” he assured.
The Minister said the launch of the book is a clear manifestation of the collaboration needed between academia and the industry, and he promised that the ministry will use the proposals in the book as additional building blocks for the road sector as well value for money.
The 145-page book is authored by Dr. Joseph K. Ofori-Kuragu, Professor Bernard K. Baiden and Professor Edward Badu, all lecturers at the Building Technology Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi. It has relevant chapters that deal with the challenges in the Ghanaian construction industry and proposes innovative strategies on how the construction industry can effectively support the new government’s flagship Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme.
Prof Bernard Baiden, one of the authors, said Ghana’s construction industry is at a crossroads and Ghanaian construction companies must improve their standards. Citing the example of the Airport City in Accra where many huge construction projects have been built or are under construction, he revealed that many of the clients there are multi-nationals who insist on global standards.
Prof Baiden asked for standards to be enforced in the Ghanaian construction sector to allow local firms to compete. It is common for construction sites in the developed world to have injury-free sites, but in Ghana, safety is taken for granted, he lamented.
He said there is no single body regulating construction companies and consultants so everybody does what they like. He called for an independent, non-partisan body made up of professionals to regulate both the building and construction sectors because if construction improves, it will drive down the cost of doing business.
Also speaking at the event was Dr. Kwame Ofori-Kuragu a co-author who revealed that the book is the outcome of a comprehensive field study particularly regarding what affects the industry.
He said the Ghanaian construction industry needs to modernise or risk-perishing. The book he said features a performance scorecard that will score projects. According to the co-author, in the United Kingdom (UK), the regulator of the construction industry releases periodic Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to maintain standards but that practice is non-existent in Ghana.
He said the book has identified some critical success factors for Ghanaian construction firms.
“We have compared what many in different countries helped not just construction companies but many firms to excel and to perform well. As an aggregation of all the factors we looked at, we’ve come out with what we call critical success factors for Ghanaian construction firms,” Dr. Ofori-Kuragu said.
He raised concern about the issue of advance payments in the construction sector where companies almost always pre-finance projects before clients, which is normally government, makes payments later. He explained that this model is unsustainable.He proposed that there needs to be a big forum on the construction industry in Ghana where all relevant stakeholders will come together to move the industry forward.
The launch was performed by Charles K. Boakye, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Infrastructure Systems. He said government is now working on a massive programme to transform the road sector because they envisage a large number of cars will be plying the country’s roads in the near future.
Cars will fill up the roads and we can’t just sit down to have the roads gridlocked before we start talking. Currently, it is already a big challenge as we all know-every morning, some people spend three hours in traffic. So the transport system is huge.
“The railway sector will have 4,000km of network. Maritime the same. Expansion of the ports and even the fishing harbour over 14 of them are supposed to be constructed,” Boakye said, and added “We have the professionals in the construction industry. We are working and diligently going through the kind of professionals that we need for road construction, building construction.”
According to the Charles Boakye, the housing sector is huge and he estimated over nine million houses will be constructed in the next 30 years.
“Housing deficit is about 1.7 million but, unofficially, it is about twice that. It is very serious because the household size is about four so, if the population is 28 million, then there’s supposed to be about 7 million houses.”
According to the authors, the ultimate success of national development programmes such as the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication and the associated One Village One Dam Programme, the One District One Factory Programme, and the Western Railway Line Project, plans to establish 10 industrial parks across the country and other proposed infrastructure projects linked to the proposed industrialisation drive, are heavily dependent on an efficient construction industry.
Also in attendance were Chief Executive Officers of construction and building technology companies, members of the Ghana Institute of Engineers (GHIE), Ghana Institute of Architects, Ghana Institute of Surveyors, Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors of Ghana (ABCECG), real estate companies, and stakeholders in the construction industry.