Transparency implies openness, timely communication and accountability.
Transparency makes it easy for others to see what actions are being performed as well as when, how and why they are happening.
This entails honestly outlining with ease to any interested party how a project is being managed. No information is hidden, not even the financial status of the project.
Transparency in construction industry should be done to all sectors: transport, irrigation, manufacturing, mining and building.
The transport sector comprises construction and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, water travel facilities (jetties and harbours), airports, railways and stations.
The irrigation component encompasses the construction and rehabilitation of dams, pipelines and irrigation structures, including canals.
Railway sector is mainly for construction of railway line and stations. As for air transport, construction of airports and associated facilities such as the runway and installation of traffic controlling services is involved.
The first activity is the procurement process which ought to be robust and done according to Public Procurement Act of 2008.
The procurement process involves advertisement of goods and services to be procured, detailed evaluation, review by internal procurement committee and finally seeking approval from Office of Director of Public Procurement (ODPP).
This arrangement flushes out contractors who do not meet the minimum standards.
Implementation of construction projects involves many stakeholders, including clients, supervising engineers and financiers.
These form part of the team that monitors financial disbursement, progress being achieved, adherence to deadlines and quality of work.
No client or donor would be amused if the resources meant for the project were abused, misappropriated or stolen.
One activity that also addresses transparency in construction industry is the technical audit.
The audits are conducted to review the financial status of projects. It verifies the resources used, accuracy of quantities claimed in comparison to completed works, usage of resources within the budget or need for more resources due to increased or change of scope of work.
Technical audits also review the quality of works being done to ensure everything is done according to specifications.
Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (Cost) is one of the initiatives which was put in place globally to raise and enforce transparency in the industry.
Cost seeks to help participating countries derive value from public infrastructure.
Malawi is a member of the transparency drive to achieve quality infrastructure at lower cost with increased predictability of outcomes.
Cost encourages governments to put systems in place that allow the public to access reliable and detailed construction project information.
To ensure transparency in construction industry, project signboards are placed at the project sites.
The signboards contain details of the project: names of the client, supervising engineer and contractor as well as contract number, scope of work and project duration.
One of the frequently question is: Why is it that the contract sum is not indicated on the project signboards?
One may wonder why it is very important to display such financial data.
Well, it has been a tradition to have such information on project sign boards without including the contact sum.
But if transparency is to be enhanced, I feel that information has to be included. The general public can be motivated to monitor the progress, including the completion of projects, if such details are displayed.
Besides that, contractors may feel ashamed if they fail to complete or abandon any construction projects.
This will bring the reputation of contractors at stake. n