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The current economic crisis has widened the gap between resources requirements to meet planned goals and the projected availability of funds for construction projects. Ineffective materials management has become a source of problem to successful construction project management, because materials take about 65 percent of the total cost of a construction project.
In this study, fifty construction professionals provided the data on materials management in construction industry using Port Harcourt as the sampling site. Questionnaires were used to collect data from three main groups of project participants. (clients, consultants and contractors). The critical factors of materials management were summarized into five basic variables namely materials planning, material procurement, material handling, material storage and material usage. Six basic questions were asked on each and the numerical summation of the ratings of a respondent formed the observed value for the variable for that particular respondent. The same was done for the assessment of the state materials management as applicable to construction industry in Nigeria, which formed the dependent variable Y. The summary of the field data was subjected to statistical analysis. The result of the analysis showed that of the five factors, only three (planning, procurement and usage) were statistically established as being critical to materials management efforts for construction project to the level of 77.8%.
The study therefore, concludes that materials handling and storage efforts though important to materials management in construction projects should be de-emphasized since good planning, procurement and usage procedure will incorporate them.
1.1 OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY
The construction industry occupies an important position in the structure of Nigeria’s economy. This assertion becomes necessary when one considers the role played by the sub sector to the growth of other sectors as well as the economy in general. Olaloku (1986) reported that this industry employs about four percent (4%) of the country’s labour force and contributed about twelve percent (12%) of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Despite the noted contributions the industry has maintained unimpressive track of performance evidenced by numerous failed and abandoned construction projects scattering every nook and cranny of the country. The socio-cultural, economic, and political environment in which the industry operates has directly or indirectly affected growth.
On of the areas of construction operation, which has attracted little attention, is the management of construction materials. The construction project evaluation with focus on the material management processes and procedures has become necessary since it will equally subsume other areas of construction cost management. Modern material’s management tools and techniques as applied to construction projects, analysis
the elemental cost of projects based on material inputs and possible cost variations based on price fluctuations but not at the expense of quality/value maximization. According to Sloan (1990) of a total utility of 100% associated with a construction project, the client places the following importance upon the three critical functional aspects:
On the other hand Onyeador (1997) posits that the success or failure of construction projects could be measured in terms of cost of completion vs budget, time take to complete the project vs planned duration and the extent to which the completed project conforms with the design specifications (quality).
However, Onyeador (1992) is of the view that construction project undertakings are difficult to mange. This according to him may be due to the complex nature of activities involved: always having design systems separated from actual construction, and the multi-disciplinary nature of the team. Also the competitive tendering often adopted in practice introduces some socio-economic and political dimensions to the management system. Apart from the client/sponsor, other project participants include the contractors, consultants, (Architects, Quantity surveyors, Engineers) and other stakeholders (material suppliers, government regulatory agencies and host community).
These project participants agree to implement the project according to the time, cost and quality specifications, which the client has directly or indirectly caused to be made in respect of the design for the project.
Where these initial project specifications otherwise referred to as success. Criteria or parameters are met, the project is deemed to have been a success, otherwise a verdict of failure is returned on the project Kerzner (1995).
However what may be the single most critical factor to the client is quality PMBOK (2001). In this era of economic depression and rapid rising material cost, concerns for optimum utilization of available resources tend to dominate all decisions relating to construction project undertakings. It is only with highly skilled project management team that uncertainties in the planning and execution processes can be kept to a minimum on order attain significantly the quality objectives of the construction project within optimal time and cost. Infact Mezue (1992) placed cost material input at an average of 655 of the total construction project delivery sum.
Consequently, construction materials, has become one of the most important elements of cost management in the construction industry toady. There is therefore particular need for increased attention in the area of material management to ensure cost effectiveness in construction project management. Thomas and Kramer (1987).
This research work therefore, attempts to evaluate the materials management strategies in the Nigeria construction industry as a way of improving the state of project management practices as applied in the construction industry in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
In recent time, the Nigerian society has faced the challenge of increasing need for construction projects. Despite that concerted efforts have been made in response to this by the system; the scenario has been that of more disappointment (widespread project failure and abandonment). More often than not these projects are characterized by cost overruns, shoe pace of project execution and time lags, substandard level of workmanship and quality. In extreme cases total abandonment are experienced. Equally, the planning and management of construction materials usage are often based on the contractors; experience and intuition than on rational analysis of the works to be performed based on application of known scientific tolls and technique. The failure of any construction project through poor materials management carried two repercussions to the economy. These are the waste of resource used in its execution and the denial of the opportunity for other projects that depend on the former from coming on stream. All these put together have made most construction project efforts to seem like promotion of economic waste and social misdeeds.
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