Dr Ritesh Chandrashekar Tiwari, Director-Highways & Structures, Egis India
In your opinion, what are the integrated and sustainable solutions that can help avoid time and cost overrun in project execution?
The main reasons for any project delay, in my view, are: lack of clarity that leads to conflict and shortage of funds. And in some way, I feel both are intertwined. There is a wantof central planning for cities which can look at long-term plans, say, for the next fifty years, and then start allocating funds and resources. Once this is in place, the implementation bodies could be empowered to take the day-to-day operations to complete the project. Since our planning is only for five years, in my opinion, this is very short-term.
If we are able to make a long-term plan, close it tight, and put all our available resources on it, I think there will be no delays in any projects, ever.
What is the impact of project delays on cost for completion, manpower cost, depreciation, inflation, foreign exchange fluctuation, etc., to cite a few?
There is a direct relation between project delays and costs in general. The longer the project, the bigger is the bill for the project owner. The reason for this is the cost of inflation primarily, which adversely impacts the cost of raw materials. The cost of foreign exchange impacts in cases when the funds are coming from outside countries or agencies are paid in other currencies. It also depends on the amount of planning put in at the start of the project and the buffer in terms of cost and time are taken into consideration. Manpower cost is again a huge expense in project delays, as the salaries need to be paid for longer than what is budgeted for.
Do you see any upsides and downsides in the current contractual agreements in India? What, in your opinion, can regulators do to mitigate the risks?
I think most clients do not reward timely completion. There should be an incentive for the contractors over and above the promised amount to complete projects on time. It need not be monetary; but it could be an award given or some kind of appreciation that can help build the credibility of the company as someone who delivers on time. This will help companies to focus more on building their reputation. Also, there needs to be checks and balances at the client's end at more stringent levels to monitor delays at their end, so that they can be addressed and minimised.
What is the role project managers can play in curbing the issue of project delays?
The project manager has the role of pre-empting potential delays and taking necessary actions to minimise or avoid the delay by analysing various socioûeconomic and political stimuli, using the past experience of being in similar situations. The project manager is closest to the action that also has the best updated information of the project, client, and people. Therefore, he is the key for smooth transition during delays.