An assessment of the planning cycle in Zambia's road construction projects

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Mkuni, Makalani
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University of Zambia
Despite so many studies about the construction industry in Zambia, very little is known about road construction project planning. A construction project is generally considered successful if it is planned, designed, constructed and handed over for use within the intended budget, time and meeting the desired set quality. However, road construction projects in Zambia have been known to overrun the design schedule and incur costs higher than planned and budgeted. The main aim of this research was to propose a planning cycle that will improve the management of road infrastructure projects in Zambia as a means of minimising road construction and maintenance costs. This was achieved through a total assessment of the current practices in the planning of public road infrastructure development projects and identification of key bottlenecks. This study was limited to public road construction projects within Zambia. The research was conducted using the cross – sectional study design and the study population of interviewees and questionnaire respondents comprised professionals involved in public road construction project planning at national and district levels. A triangulated methodological approach of using structured interviews, a questionnaire survey and three case studies was adopted preceded by a detailed literature review. Results revealed some constraints in the manner road projects were planned. Amongst the problems identified were non-adherence to strategic plans, political interference, poor project prioritisation, uncoordinated contract procurement, procuring contracts before confirmation of funds availability, government bureaucracy, inconsideration of vendor past performance during tendering and inappropriate project designs. After case studies a model was proposed which would be used in enhancing public road project planning in Zambia. It was established that the lapses in the project planning processes had negatively impacted on project delivery through cost overruns, delays and quality shortfalls. The researcher recommended the adoption of the developed model for use by implementing institutions as other researchers consider developing it further in order to address some of its limitations. The findings from this study, the proposed model, conclusions and recommendations are expected to enhance road project planning in Zambia and further still improve project delivery.
Master of Engineering in Project Management
Road infrastructure--Zambia , Roads--Design and construction