ISSUES AT STAKE: Quantity surveyors will curb corruption

GOVERNMENT will spend more than R50-billion to fund national and provincial economic infrastructure requirements, according to the National Budget announced by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

However, according to the Auditor-General (AG) report on local government audit outcomes for 2014-15, infrastructure was one of the items that municipalities struggled with most to correctly measure and disclose in the financial statements over the past five years.

AG Kimi Makwetu recently released three performance audit reports dealing with pharmaceuticals, water infrastructure and urban renewal projects, saying in some instances the required skilled personnel were not appointed at the start of a project.

We say that quantity surveyors are best placed to stem corruption in government infrastructure projects.

Globally, construction projects are highly susceptible to cost overruns, owing to a number of factors.

Here in South Africa, as in many other countries, we have the additional problem of corruption, where due process is flouted in order to benefit connected individuals or companies, often during the construction process itself.

The person best placed to identify deviations from the original tender in terms of both scope and pricing is the quantity surveyor and, as such, they act as the client’s (taxpayers’) watchdog.

To have the greatest impact, quantity surveyors should be involved right from the initiation stage of the project and also in the planning and feasibility reports in addition to the approval of the actual procurement strategies.

Right price

A key issue in any project is to ensure that the tender is awarded to the right contractor at the right price.

Quantity surveyors play a critical role here because they are trained to manage the financial and legal processes of a project.

During the design stage the surveyor’s estimate is the tool to ensure the design remains within budget.

During the procurement stage the quantity surveyor produces the Bills of Quantities (BoQ) on which fair and equitable tenders are based.

The BoQ is the ultimate document that provides the client with the knowledge of how much the project is going to cost before construction begins, which is invaluable in judging the tenders before they are awarded.

The quantity surveyor then acts as watchdog throughout the course of the project: monitoring progress against the BoQ, authorising payments as work is completed, noting deviations from the tender and, ultimately, producing the final account and being able to defend it to any stakeholder.

Dave Savides

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