The Ghana Institute of Engineers (GhIE) has responded to recent public criticisms on the quality of engineering works being undertaken in the country by practitioners.
In a position paper issued and signed by Mrs Carlien Bou-Chedid, President of the GhIE on the issue, the association said it has taken note of the recent statements especially by the Senior Minister, the Minister for Works and Housing and the Minister for Roads and Highways.
The engineers expressed concern on the challenges faced in project implementation and the key issues to be addressed to ensure satisfactory project outcomes among which includes Political and social interference from some key stakeholders in all stages of the project cycle, inadequate project planning, inadequate use of the appropriate technical personnel during the procurement process, processes for certifying payments that relegate the role of the engineer to the background and delayed payments for services rendered that affect the quality of contracts.
Read the full statement below
OBTAINING QUALITY SERVICE FROM GHANAIAN ENGINEERING PRACTITIONERS IN GHANA
A Position Paper of the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE)
Following recent statements made by the Senior Minister, the Minister for Works and Housing and the Minister for Roads and Highways, the GhIE has taken note of the dissatisfaction that is being expressed on the quality of service rendered by Ghanaian engineering practitioners working in Ghana. The perception amongst the public is that the poor infrastructure in the country is due to the failure of engineering practitioners to perform their duties effectively.
In this position paper, the GhIE expresses its opinion on the challenges faced in project implementation and the key issues to be addressed to ensure satisfactory project outcomes
The objective of the GhIE is to promote and advance the science and practice of engineering to the benefit of society in Ghana, Africa and globally. In providing civic service, the GhIE advises Government and the public on engineering matters. It also ascertains the views of its members on matters of public interest which lie within their competence and makes these views known to the public.
Considerations in the successful delivery of infrastructural projects
There are different stages in the project cycle for the delivery of any infrastructural project and over the years, a number of challenges have been experienced which have impacted negatively on project outcomes. The various stages where there have been serious challenges include the following:
• Project Conception and Planning
• Project Implementation
• Payment for Services
Project Conception and Planning: The designs of some infrastructural interventions are conceived and developed with minimal technical input. Costing is also undertaken without all the relevant technical considerations. Standard designs are adopted without due consideration being given to site specific conditions. Poor and ineffective planning usually leads to unanticipated costs/variation orders and delayed payments.
Procurement: The procurement process is fraught with many challenges. Attempts are made to procure engineering works and services without the required technical expertise. The Scope of Works may be developed without the requisite technical input or deliberately crafted to favour a predetermined outcome. The consequences of an inappropriate Scope of Works often include unanticipated costs/variations and/or shoddy works.
Additionally, even where the Terms of Reference are clear, the composition of the evaluation team may be such that the team does not have the capacity to determine which firms are suitable.
There are also social and political pressures to select firms which may not have the necessary capability to undertake the assignments under consideration. Furthermore, there are cases where contracts are sole-sourced on an inappropriate basis. These contracts are undertaken by firms which do not have the required expertise or which undertake the work at highly inflated charges.
Project Implementation: Consultants and contractors that are selected without due process make it difficult for engineers to plan their technical supervision since they have a “godfather”. Technical decisions may be side stepped. Approvals may be provided by people who do not have the technical capability to determine if the appropriate specifications and technical requirements have been met. The role of engineers in certifying payments to consultants and contractors may be relegated to the background.
Payment for Services: Payments for engineering services are sometimes certified and approved by administrative personnel rather than engineers. Construction industry players are frustrated during project implementation by delayed payments. This impacts on the quality of work when work has to stop at an intermediate stage. Any attempt to trigger delayed payment clauses in contracts can lead to a consultant being unofficially black-listed and no longer appearing on any shortlists for services. Contract durations are also unduly extended due to the delays in honouring payment certificates.
The GhIE and Unethical Practices and Corruption
Whilst the GhIE, recognizes that some engineers may have acted unprofessionally and unethically, the GhIE is confident that the vast majority of its members are professional and dedicated. Much of the development in this country could not have been undertaken without Ghanaian engineering practitioners. They have contributed significantly to the infrastructure development of Ghana as evidenced by the roads, bridges, buildings, water and electricity infrastructure across the length and breadth of the country.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Some of the key challenges impacting engineering practitioners include the following:
• Political and social interference from some key stakeholders in all stages of the project cycle.
• Inadequate project planning
• Inadequate use of the appropriate technical personnel during the procurement process
• Processes for certifying payments that relegate the role of the engineer to the background
• Delayed payments for services rendered that affect the quality of contracts
The GhIE is a licensed body of the Engineering Council of Ghana and all its activities are in accordance with the law establishing the Council. The GhIE seeks to promote engineering practice that benefits society. In order to unleash the full potential of Ghanaian engineering practitioners and uplift the value of our infrastructure, Ghanaian Engineering practitioners must be motivated and given their due respect. We further recommend the following:
• In accordance with the Engineering Council Act, government, corporate bodies and the general public must only engage engineering practitioners that are registered to practice in Ghana, to undertake any form of engineering activity in the country.
• Members of the GhIE must uphold the ethics of the profession irrespective of any pressures from stakeholders to act in an unethical manner. The GhIE, in accordance with its constitution and code of ethics, will take steps to discipline any errant behaviour amongst its members and calls on members of the GhIE and the general public to cooperate by reporting any member found to have misconducted themselves to the Executive Director of the GhIE for the necessary action to be taken.
• The Development and realisation of infrastructural projects after conception must be undertaken using engineering practitioners with the requisite knowledge and skills.
• The procurement process must be strictly adhered to hence, pressures for selection of specific firms irrespective of the bids submitted must cease.
• The certification for engineering works must only be done by appropriately registered engineering practitioners who have the capacity to do so.
• Government should accord the same treatment that is meted out to the foreign consultants and contractors to the locals in the payment of fees.
Ing. (Mrs) Carlien Bou-Chedid
PRESIDENT, GHANA INSTITUTION OF ENGINEERS
August 4, 2017