Post contract is the professional terminology used for all activities carried out when actual construction work starts. This article analyses the challenges in post contract process.
The challenges in post contract process and in the building/construction industry as a whole are too numerous and complicated. Some of the challenges of post contract process includes;
- Quality of construction materials
- Source of equipments
- Availability of qualified and competent workers
- Proliferation of experienced artisans into the field of engineering
- QUALITY OF CONSTRUCTION
The assemblage or mixing of different construction materials is the art of construction. Therefore, it is very important that these materials must conform to specifications. However, it is very sad that Nigeria is just a dumping ground for various materials and equipments. There is no control on the quality of locally produced or imported materials. This factor affects the infrastructure negatively on completion. Primary construction materials, which are common to all construction projects, are:
Cement is one of the commonest building materials. Elephant and Dangote cement are locally manufactured. They dominate the market, while there are other brands. These products are good but some unscrupulous individuals adulterate and re-bag them. This affects the setting time and overall strength of concrete and mortar. In order to augment local production, cement is imported. Experience has shown that the strength of these brands of cement are not uniform. The initial setting time vary considerably.
- Reinforcement and Structural Steel
This is a major challenge because it is not possible to know the manufacturers at the point of purchase. The size and quality is a joint problem. Common sizes in the industry are 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 25mm. However, these are sizes in name only. 10mm rods have many varieties namely, 9mm, 9.5mm or full 10mm. 12mm has 11mm, 11.5mm and full 12mm. There are at least two or three varieties of each size. There is further subdivision of local and imported reinforcement, which cannot be verified.
Occasionally when samples of reinforcement were taken to the laboratory for testing, the tensile strengths were found to be lower than design strength.
Availability and cost are the major problem for structural steel members. Structural engineering consultants are constrained by the limited size and type of members available in the market.
There are two types of aggregates; coarse aggregates refer to granite chippings or gravel while fine aggregate is supposed to be river sand. Granite chippings are manufactured mechanically and locally, it should be free from dust, loam, silt, clay and other impurities. The source of worry here is mainly availability. We have occasional bad chippings, but it is easy to detect. However, fine aggregate to be used for mortar and concrete should be clean, sharp, natural pit or river sand. Though river sand is very scarce. In upland states, river dredging is uncommon. What is referred to as river sand does not meet all the qualities of the sand specified for construction works.
Other materials used for construction are, aluminum roofing sheets, doors, mortise locks, electrical cables and fittings, sanitary wares, asphalt, paints e.t.c. We have various manufactures for these materials, but the quality of their products differ significantly. Most of them are substandard because the country does not have an efficient regulatory body to enforce compliance with international standards. The professional in the construction industry is at the receiving end.
The big multinational companies do not seem to have any problem in this regard. However, the bulk of other indigenous contracting companies who do not need major equipment like bulldozers, vibrating rollers, excavators for more than a few days at a time face hardship in locating equipment in good working condition. It is extremely difficult even if you have the money to pay. Basic equipment like concrete mixers, concrete vibrators, survey equipment, small lifting devices, cranes, vibrating rollers, pavers and other equipment are common to all contracting firms. Availability of spare parts and high cost of maintenance is the only major challenge.
In addition to the above, Indigenous contracting companies are not benefiting from latest developments that have taken place on equipment worldwide. In developed countries, equipment-leasing companies complement these disadvantages in the construction industry. But leasing outfits are not common in the country. The fact that we are still placing concrete manually on multi storey buildings is not good enough. Concrete pumps and small lifting devices should be available at affordable prices
The inadequacy of competent work force is another major challenge in the industry. The quality of recent graduates is declining. Training facilities are running short while incessant strikes in our education system leads to poor education. It is so bad that you cannot trust a trainee engineer on a simple task. This factor indirectly encouraged the proliferation of experienced artisans who pose as engineers to unsuspecting clients and employers. The problem caused by incompetent workforce is that expected basic engineering knowhow is lacking.
For instance, an engineer on a road project is expected to know that asphalt laid below the given temperature will quicken deterioration of the road surface. He is also expected to identify bad laterite for earthworks even before laboratory tests.
Likewise, on a building project, an engineer should acquaint himself with the use of basic tools like tape, builders’ plums, squares, bricklayers range and a host of others. He is also expected to know the setting time of concrete and workability for various uses; he should be conversant with lap lengths suitable for the various sizes of reinforcement.
An average engineer on any project is therefore expected to have a reasonable understanding of the various components: electrical and mechanical works. The incompetence of the site engineer or supervising consultant affects their employers negatively and the client generally on the successful completion of the project.
The training of artisans has also dropped. Apprentice artisans are not available. This has led to insufficient artisans in all categories. While the volume of work available is increasing daily, the numbers of artisans are decreasing.
The aim of any individual pursuing a carrier in civil engineering is to be able to generate enough money to live comfortably. The financial difficulties in the industry are so staggering that achieving the objective is a mirage.
Bureaucracy by civil servants leads to delay in payment to both the contractors and the consultants. This is common to all tiers of government and university. Only corporate organisations pay for services rendered as and when due. Inadequate budgeting for ongoing projects is another mitigating factor. To compound these problems, banks are not willing to fund contractors because of bad loans.
The combined effect of all these factors on the industry creates a crippling effect. This accounts for a high percentage of abandoned projects.