Construction In Ghana. Summary Of Findings
This study was to give an account on the effect of disputes in construction contracts in Ghana. Ghana is not the only nation to experience issues with their construction industry. The developed nations have their share of issues despite advanced infrastructure, technology and expertise. In Canada a major scandal was reported in Montreal involving the mayor, city administration, the Mafia and others. The goal is therefore not to reach a “Western standard”, but rather to develop a new made-in-Ghana standard with Ghanaian solutions to the problems of dispute in contracting.
The future of Ghana’s construction industry is largely dependent on the nation’s ability to leverage its construction industry talent to work together to solve common issues such as supply of materials, financial cash flow issues, limited infrastructure, among other challenges. The stakeholders in Ghana’s construction industry are not equipped to take on competition from foreign firms given the perception of disparity of quality and performance between Ghanaian and foreign firms; given the planned use of a proportion of petroleum revenues to build infrastructure and reduce the current limitations, this is an important consideration. It is possible that a considerable amount of this will go to companies from developed nations. It is therefore critical to determine what can be done in the short term to better position the construction firms and stakeholders in Ghana. The critical success factor is to reduce the incidence of disputes which prevent completion, quality and perceptions of quality.
Preventing disputes in construction begins with the client, who must take responsibility for accuracy in instructions and attention to detail in meeting regulations and ensuring cash flow. The consultant must translate these into specifications which can be followed by the contractor, taking into account flexibility that may be required based on common concerns. Further, the consultant should play a role in consulting with other stakeholders and disseminating multiple perspectives to all participants. The regulator has a role to play in terms of enforcement, but also in clarifying and communicating an integrated understanding of relevant requirements for compliance. Ensuring consultation with affected parties prior to construction may be an area which, with clear processes and regulation, might reduce conflicts between construction projects and local individuals or communities. Further, the government has a role to play in supporting the best possible environment, which, more than reducing market volatility includes payment of contractors and consultants in public works in a timely manner and clearly indicating at all stages in the project what the expectations are that will satisfy and trigger payment. All stakeholders should take a systems centred approach, keeping the priority the quality completion of the project. Blame should be replaced by common interest in solving problems.
Things may be looking more positively today. In the survey it was noted that over 50% of those consulted agreeing that the construction industry is doing better in the area of dispute resolution, the fact remains that over one third agreed that disputes caused delays in the completion of contracts, and over half of those surveyed felt it took six months to a year for payment to be received. In these areas it appears that communication between team members is the starting point to reaching a higher standard within the team and team work which can lead to higher standards in construction. Corruption, however, was identified as the second most pressing concern. It is here that Dr. Ofori’s concept of a national database could make headway, as with a national and comparable bank of data with regard to construction new standards and expectations will emerge, and transparency in results are easily accessible.
In the medium and long term it is well worth determining how data capture could result in a national databank of construction and outcomes. With a well-developed body of research produced in Ghana, providing the data required for quantitative analysis could bring a new level of understanding of the construction industry in Ghana.