EBK and infrastructural development in Sierra Leone

27 November 2007 at 11:59 | 724 views

By Assaf Rassin Kamara, Atlanta, Georgia.

I think President Koroma needs to have some mechanisms in place before he can start something like infrastructural development as he said not too long ago. As an engineer and with the experience that I’ve gained in the past year working with the US Department of Transportation, construction division, I think President Koroma needs to set up a team of engineers that will come together and start off with the Initial Planning.

Initial Planning consist of the following:
(a)Fixing project goals
(b)Feasibility Study and Restraints
(d)Professional Assistance.

The Initial Planning is the group of activities that establishes the scope of the project. In essence these activities answer the following questions:
1. What is to be done?
2. Where should it be?
3. When to do it?
4. What are the restrictions?
5. How to pay for it?
6. Who should design?

The first step in the planning process is to explore the problems and determine a program that will reach a solution. This is done by itemizing, summarizing and organizing the needs.

At this stage the general outlines of the project are known as well as the locale of operations. It is the time to determine whether the project is free of financial, technical, or practical limitations. They should conduct a thorough survey of the existing structures including an intelligent observation of current operations. This information is necessary for future planning. In addition to the visual evidence the project manager should seek opinions, data and procedures from the owner’s representatives. These representatives are engineers appointed by the owner/president to observe and monitor on his behalf.

In many cases the site is a given factor with little room for choice. When this occurs the best must be made of the situation by applying whatever management technique makes good sense. Where there is no predetermined site, an orderly site selection process can be implemented to obtain the optimum property.

The first consideration in acquiring a site is its location and the logistics of operating there. What transportation serves the area, such as railways, airports, highways, canals, and coastal water? Is material handling a problem? Can employees get to work without traffic delays?
If after preliminary investigation the location seems suitable, the next consideration should be it’s natural state. Assuming everything checks out to the point, it is time to consider the cost of land, real estate taxes, and future levies for improvements. Tax and engineering records can be useful in this research.

Two separate soil investigations should be taken. The first is a preliminary investigation to determine if the soil-bearing capacities are acceptable. This investigation precludes any serious surface or subsurface deficiencies.
The second occurs at the time of construction, prior to design, when a complete soil investigation of the structure should be undertaken. The structural engineer has the prerogative and the responsibility for this data accumulation.

Once all the reports are completed with an as built plan of Sierra Leone, then the design teams comes in. Before the design team, there should be professional managers these professional managers have no affiliation with either the design or the construction establishment, their service is pure consisting solely of consultation and agency services to the owner/president.

The initial action required of the owner is making the internal adjustment needed to accommodate the impact of the project on his day-to-day operations. Each department is directed to appoint a representative for planning and programming purposes and these representatives should be engineers that knows what’s going on because their input are very vital at this point.

The owner’s/president staff representative moves to the front, acting as interface between internal operations and field activities and relieving the owner/president of most burdens associated with the ongoing project. The owner’s/president staff representatives primary responsibilities focus on all the activities related to the financial status of the project and the progress of the work. The staff representatives attend all executive meetings, regular job meetings, schedule progress meetings, and special meetings as required.

Then the design consultant comes in; his role is to continue the program development in detail after receiving the feasibility study and visiting the site. With the assistance of his structural and mechanical colleagues, the design process moves through series of flow and space diagrams until all factors gel into a scheme. Designing remains in the sketch phase as the primary characteristics are established and the schematic design evolve. This is one of the milestones in the design process, for it is at the completion of schematic design that certain management techniques are applied to provide the first design evaluation. Part of the schematic design package is the outline of specifications, which lists in outline form the materials, methods and systems to be incorporated in to the project.

Once the schematic design is accepted, the design consultant initiates the design development phase and proceeds to complete the site development and the foundation design so that the initial bid package can be issued for bid. These designs will provide for the rough grading and excavation, the installation of underground site utilities and foundations. Concurrent with this activity, the balance of the design documents is advanced to design development stage. This is the second milestone in the design process. It provides the final checkpoint before commitment to working drawings. A design-development cost estimate is then prepared. Secondary systems are subjected to a value analysis review. The final bid packages are determined and the project manager gives document schedule to the designer. Once these documents are approved, the final documentation proceeds in earnest. The management and design team work together to develop the boilerplate, or general conditions for bid, and the rest of the working drawings are prepared in the sequence designated by the document schedule.

During construction, the design consultant monitors the work for compliance with design intent, provides documentation to any changes to the work, interprets the documents, reviews shop drawings and samples, and finally prepares a punch list prior to acceptance of work by the owner/president.

Most governments that are blessed with the degree of success in their chosen activity sooner or later face the need for additional space or accommodate an enlarged workforce, an expanded activity, a new process, or a new affiliate. Once this need is recognized and acknowledges, a project is born.

The early stage of planning consists mainly of informal discussion in-house, weighing the pros and cons of the situation, which has given rise to the need for space. These may be introspective in nature, evaluating whether the circumstance is temporary, short range, rapidly developing, or slowing evolving.

For some of us that are engineers in the diaspora are willing to come home and take part in this whole process so that we can stop relying on international professionals to be doing everything for us. Especially when Sierra Leone has it’s own engineering professionals that are qualified and capable of doing maybe more than the international professionals. These professional don’t seeks Sierra Leone interest but their own interest but the Sierra Leone owns professionals will seek the interest of Sierra Leone first because it’s the greatest achievement and pride it will give to us. I want to see Sierra Leone roads like the roads in America and the rest of the western world. I believe in ourselves and that we are capable to do anything in Sierra Leone without any limitations.

I hope President Ernest Bai Koroma will pay attention to the above since he is calling on Sierra Leoneans to come home and join in the development process.