The importance of road maintenance for economic and social development, as well as for the preservation of investment in road infrastructure, is widely acknowledged. Major road sector reforms in the 1990s in Sub-Saharan Africa, introducing a commercialised approach to road management, has led to benefits mainly related to strategic road networks. Much is still to gain with respect to rural road networks, where the benefits from investment in maintenance are less tangible but equally significant.
This regional project in Africa, led by Civil Design Solutions (CDS) in collaboration with the University of Birmingham (UK), has been commissioned to address issues related to management of rural road networks. Its objectives are to:
Review the literature on road asset management and maintenance programmes and identify 'what works' and 'what doesn't work' in the type of environment likely to be encountered in the project area;
Develop a framework for measuring performance in road asset management appropriate to sub-national rural road networks and apply it in selected project areas;
Develop simple and appropriate tools for monitoring road condition and apply them in the project areas;
Develop simple indicators of economic and social impact of rural roads and monitor them in the project areas;
Achieve incremental (and measurable) improvements to asset management performance in the project areas over a three year period.
The approach to the project is intended to foster self-reliance in road agencies in the project areas and encourage greater accountability to road users and other sector stakeholders. The approach focuses on improved performance in road asset management rather than on any specific or pre-conceived road asset management systems or institutional, management and funding arrangements. Support to this process will be provided through demand-led technical assistance funded by UK Aid through AFCAP.
Capacity building is an integral part of the project and involves providing advice and know-how to local staff to improve local asset management performance (objective 5). Allied to this a researcher in Sierra Leone and one in Uganda are being trained to undertake research via research degrees whose outcomes are intimately linked to the objectives of the GEM project. In addition, students undertaking the University of Birmingham's Masters programme in Road Management and Engineering are also offered the opportunity to undertake associated research projects.
The project is being implemented in three phases:
Formulation phase (December 2015 – June 2016): This included development of a detailed implementation methodology and achievement of objectives 1 to 4, selection of participating countries, establishment of a Project Implementation Team (PIT) consisting of representatives of the four participating regions and the project team.
Implementation phase (launched in July 2016): This includes the selection of project areas and project road networks, data collection requirements and training of local staff to collect data required to capture asset management performance (objective 2), road condition performance (objective 3) and social and economic impact of roads (objective 4), data collection and analysis and self assessment through the PIT approach (objective 5).
Dissemination phase during which the findings will be documented and disseminated to key stakeholders in one or more dissemination workshops. Comments from the workshop will be used to finalise the Final Report on the Study.
The funded component of the project is due for completion at the end of October, 2018
The ultimate beneficiaries of the project are rural communities in sub-Sahara Africa. Three AfCAP partner countries have been selected to engage in the implementation phase of the project: Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia, together with a proposed local road authority in each of these countries. The Department of Transport and Public Works, Western Cape Government, South Africa has also agreed to participate in order to provide the selected AfCAP countries with an exemplar of best practice in rural road asset management. For knowledge sharing and capacity building purposes, all AfCAP member countries will be represented in the PIT meetings.
in Tonkolili district, Sierra Leone; inundation adds 30-40kms to journeys (Photo: CDS)
Mobilisation Report, December 2015
Inception Report, February 2016
Research paper, Specification for Rural Road Asset Management Performance, March 2016
Research paper, Economic Growht through Effective Road Asset Management, March 2016
Workshop Report, A New Specification for the Effective Management of RuralRoads, March 2016
Final Formulation Phase Report, May 2016
Inception Report for the Implementation Phase, September 2016
Project Leaflet, October 2016