July 2014—Mohammad Anwar, a construction materials wholesaler in the western city of Herat, Afghanistan, gloomily recalls the construction of a road in 2003 that fell prey to damage in under six months. With a poor rating from Herat residents, the local municipal government recognized that reforms to Herat’s construction monitoring practices were overdue.
Engineer Mohammad Nadir, an employee of Herat’s construction department, singled out past weaknesses in the municipality’s quality control process: “We were not including technical drawings and bills of quantity in the contracts before …. Our engineers were not monitoring the projects regularly, but when they did, they did not have necessary tools and enough experience. They simply relied on their eyes.”
Through USAID’s Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Population (RAMP UP) program, the Agency helped Herat’s construction department in June 2010 modernize its quality control and provided the department valuable tools to assess construction projects, including GPS equipment and a digital concrete hammer to check the strength of concrete. USAID also trained municipality engineers to ensure that future construction contracts include all necessary specifications.
“It’s difficult to prove the weaknesses without standard equipment, but now with the new digital equipment, we can easily check quality of the concretes,” said Nadir.
Regular monitoring has already improved construction quality. Recently, municipality engineers used the digital hammer and found a section of a drainage canal that did not comply with the contract. Nadir rejected the work and discussed the ratio of cement and sand with the contractor. The contractor demolished that section and rebuilt it according to the terms of the contract. The municipality is realizing the value of stringent quality control now that construction staffs have the skills and tools to more effectively assess construction projects.
The RAMP UP program, which ended in February 2014, supported the creation of responsive, democratic, transparent, accountable and gender-sensitive municipal governance through training for municipal officials; improving service delivery to citizens; and helping municipalities foster economic growth and increase revenue.
Last updated: January 16, 2015