Younten Tshedup  | Panbang

A case study of Dagapela-Dalbari road construction highlighted the lack of professionalism in the construction sector today.

Halfway into the commencement of the project, flaws in the design were detected. In absence of accurate survey data, the design had to be changed altogether.

There was no consultation among stakeholders involved and project documentation was poorly maintained.

The case study was presented during the three-day engineers, architects and planners’ conference that began in Panbang, Zhemgang, yesterday.

What became clear at the end of the presentation was that the planning and design works were not conducted accurately. Without thorough surveys, inadequate time frame was allocated to projects and there were consultation gaps among the clients, engineers and other stakeholders.

Officials from the works and human settlement ministry said that this was not an isolated case. This is what happens in most of the projects in the field.

Department of Roads’ (DoR) director general, Tenzin, said that those in the construction sectors need to rethink when it comes to delivering their duties professionally.

He said that in the construction industry, especially in the government,   it was high time they looked into the competency of engineers.

“Majority of the lapses in the construction industry today might not be from corrupt practices, as many believe,” he said. “I feel it’s due to the lack of competency of the engineers that lead to these lapses.”

Many of the audit reports, he said were issued for not following the due procedures and for not working as per the terms and conditions of the project document. “This also questions the competency of the engineers.”

He said that this was also because majority of the engineers in the country today are young and lack experience. “Those experienced ones have left the system.”

The director general said that the ministry decided to once again highlight the importance of professionalism in the sector, which is why the theme for this year’s conference is ‘professional accountability for quality infrastructure’.

“This is not the first time that we are having the theme of quality and accountability,” he said. “Although everybody is trying to improve on these issues, it’s not easy because it has to be dealt holistically and systematically.”

However, he said that it would be different this time.

“We would be coming out with a few critical resolutions, which are practical and doable in the fields of accountability and quality,” he said. “We expect these resolutions to come into effect in the next two to three years.”

Quality, he said could be achieved through standards.

“Although the ministry has many standards in place, most of these are not mandatory technical regulations,” he said. “We want to make a few of these standards mandatory.”

It was also learnt that the quality assurance plan, which is a requirement in the projects were not being implemented. “We plan to make the assurance plan and quality control components mandatory in every project especially in large and medium projects.”

Together with the quality parameter, DG Tenzin said that accountability for every project would also be fixed. “After this conference, we are seriously thinking we should begin fixing accountability in all the different stages of the project cycle.”

Meanwhile, officials from the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) said that some of the common observations made in the construction sector were over payments due to incorrect measurements, consistent delay in the completion because of non-performing contractors and non-adherence to the contract terms.

RAA officials also proposed that an induction course be developed for new engineers and they should be groomed before sending them into fields on their own.