The Construction Sector in Pakistan has undergone a dynamic transformation in the past some years. Gone are the days when it took years to complete a project because the modes of construction were outdated and inefficient. Reliance was on rule of the thumb estimation of the mason or the supervisor. The shuttering was a hotchpotch of uneven and overused wooden planks nailed together. There was hardly any futuristic vision in presenting attractive designs and facade of the buildings. TV commercials were ear-splitting loud whereas the actors played their roles as rookie amateurs. Truth-in-Advertising was alien to most of the builders and developers. Needless to say, many citizens were unjustly gypped by the black sheep in the construction sector and the connivance of the various regulatory agencies and bodies was highly apparent and damaging.
Gradually, a new breed of developers and builders made their way into the sector. A new thinking evolved and is now evident in the modernistic high rise residential and commercial complexes, optimal utilization of efficient machinery and equipment, employing adequately trained skill workforce, presenting sophisticated advertisement and publicity profile, and ensuring that all inputs and items are of state-of-the-art quality. All these have made a difference between what are standard construction methods of today and the rough and ready modes that were practiced for decades.
Construction industry is not just building apartments or plazas. It encompasses a whole gamut of sectors, including physical infrastructure such as road network, ports, airports, dams, energy utilities, and social infrastructure like educational institutions and medical facilities. Efficiency, both in time and money is crucial. With costs escalating frequently, the emphasis is on quality, affordability, and delivery. It is with these factors in perspective that builders and developers depend on fast track and proper supply of raw material as well as availability of equipment and manpower.
Ready to use concrete facility has become essential not only for large projects but also for a host of medium-sized endeavors. The cement mills and large construction companies have collaborated to provide this service. This is very advantageous because the construction company can order concrete as per the requirements of the project, thus ensuring the usage of prescribed specifications such as strength, durability, versatility, affordability, and efficiency. Another benefit is that many materials have no damaging effect on concrete. Moreover, being established companies and mindful of reputation, the concrete producers actually provide an extra yield margin to make sure they aren't short-changing their customers. This is highly unlikely when basic modes are used at construction site where mixing is done out of experience and where human error is possible.
The advantages of using quality assured concrete are to give more strength to mega projects such as dams, bridges, tunnels, and high rise structures. Moisture and mould do not impact negatively while concrete structures are safe from natural disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes. Concrete is also fire-resistant and this is crucial because in Pakistan, fire incidents have destroyed many structures. Another quality worth mentioning is the energy savings, something that this nation desperately lacks.
Concrete is transported through specific vehicles and are affordable within the proximity of the concrete supplying plant. It is in transportation of concrete in Pakistan that the ruinous impact is evidently visible and blatantly harmful. The standard operating procedures manifest strict control over the vehicle and its equipment, and it is mandatory that safety features are installed and implemented. Lack of controls, sloppy monitoring, and casual mindset of the vehicle operators have been detrimental to the roads as well as on people and property.
It is obligatory on the plant managers as well as vehicle operators to ensure that concrete granular material does not spit out of the high resistance mixing steel drum during transportation as this becomes a major road hazard as well as it damages the road surface instantly. Concrete mixers are being used all over the world for transportation without causing any harm to the environment. Whereas, it has been observed on Karachi roads that the operator of the vehicle seldom closes the latch properly on the tank and thus concrete is spit out at every junction, speed breaker or bump on the roads during vehicle movement. After discharging of the concrete, it is mandatory to rotate the tanks in the opposite direction so that the residual granules do not remain inside the tank and find their way out during transportation.
These residual granules fall on the roads resulting in visible damage to the road surface. Moreover, these granules can become lethal like bullets if fast moving traffic move over them as these can fly in various directions and become injurious to the health of people or damage to property along the roads. Since there are no laid down rules of safety assurance or material movement, the ensuing consequences are, and can be, dangerous.
It is proposed that the competent authorities, in consultation with Pakistan Engineering Council, Association of Builders and Developers, All Pakistan Construction Association, the Traffic Police, and transportation experts and consultants, must develop a Code of Conduct to ensure safe handling and transportation of concrete from plants to the construction sites. Pakistan is on her way to massive construction activity especially with the advent of projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Pakistan is also poised to commence huge low-cost housing projects all over the country. Therefore the rules must be stringent, ensured and implemented. Moving into the next phase of construction boom requires changing the mindset and elimination of shoddy practices and nonchalant attitudes. Pakistan is financially starved of resources and faces a menacing unemployment scenario. Construction industry can be the game changer. Today’s construction industry is increasingly challenging in economic, social and environmental terms. It is imperative to optimize resources and use them safely, effectively and efficiently.
The stakeholders must now get their act together. The process of transporting concrete is an extremely focal and fundamental step for the success of a large construction project. It is necessary to run an effective and efficient transport mechanism to ensure that the concrete reaches its final destination, is properly discharged, and the journey is hazard-free because lives matter more than the construction projects. Don Allen Holbrook, a world renowned economist, advised that “Change in inevitable, but progress is optional.”