The new president of the Association of Southern African National Road Agencies (ANSARA), Conrad Lutombi, says the old and traditional way of maintaining the road network infrastructure in the SADC region will soon be replaced by a long-term performance-based road management and maintenance contract system.
Sharing some of the resolutions taken by national road agencies of SADC member states following a two-day workshop in Windhoek, Lutombi, who is the chief executive officer of the Roads Authority (RA) in Namibia, said the new generation of road agencies faces a challenging task in managing road networks due to scarce financial resources and competing priorities.
“In an attempt to improve service delivery, some road authorities have moved or are considering moving to alternative forms of maintenance contracting, including performance-based and area-wide maintenance contracts,” he explained.
He said traditional road maintenance is based on the amount of work to be done and the amount to be paid for various work items. In most SADC countries contractors are given work and are paid based on the amount of work done, but Lutombi says this must change.
“Because we want to bring efficiency and effectiveness into the management of the road network it is time now to move into long-term performance-based road management and maintenance contracts, which define minimum conditions of road assets that must be maintained by a contractor,” stated Lutombi.
He said the new system would also define other services, such as the collection and management of road assets. Giving an example of damage to infrastructure after flooding, he said: “We should be able to have a contractor that should respond to such emergencies.
“Long-term performance-based road management and maintenance contracts will compel a contractor to have services, such as collection and management of asset inventory data, emergency response and replies to public requests, or complaints, and be able to give feedback.”
He said payment in the new system would be based on how well the contractor manages to comply with the defined performance standards and not on the amount of work and number of services delivered. “Performance-based contracts define the final product and not the amount of input to the work,” he elaborated.
The CEO of the Roads Authority further said the new method has the benefit of ensuring quality delivery of the final product by the contractor and would increase transparency and reduce the risk of corruption.
Lutombi, who has steered the RA since 2010, said to implement the new methods in the regions, ANSARA appointed an implementation team under the auspices of its construction and maintenance standing committee to develop guidelines for the implementation of performance-based and area-wide maintenance contracts in the SADC region.
ANSARA was established in 2013, in line with the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology, with the main aim of enhancing regional policy coordination and road transport system integration in order to improve intra-regional road transport efficiency and lower transport costs. Member countries include South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Angola and Namibia.