Considering that regular maintenance of infrastructure projects is often relegated to the backburner, construction industry experts suggest creation of ‘asset management policy’.
“Unless there is some kind of maintenance policy, where the frequency of maintenance and its monitoring is defined, even the construction agencies won't take it seriously. With the formulation of a maintenance policy, even the government will be bound to allocate a fix amount of money on regular basis for upkeep and renovation of assets,” said SM Sarin, former director, Central Road Research Institute.
“The standard of maintenance of big infrastructure projects is laid down and is even included in the concessionaire agreement with big companies that build and maintain the projects. All we need to do is to tweak them a little to suit our needs and maintenance contract can be awarded to private agencies,” said KK Kapila, president, Consulting Engineers Association of India (CEAI), an apex body of consulting engineers.
Thanks to poor maintenance, a large number of infrastructure projects created in the past, such as pedestrian subways and flyover railings, are in bad shape now.
While the maintenance of assets becomes the contractor's responsibility when the project is executed under public-private partnership or build-operate-transfer basis, experts believe the rest of the assets should be handed over to private agencies under the annual maintenance system.
"The agency's own staff should just supervise whether the laid down standards and procedures are being followed," Kapila said.
The experts also believe that there is a need to create awareness among people that assets have been created for them and its regular upkeep is their responsibility.
“Unless people develop a sense of belonging to these assets and take the responsibility of keeping it in good condition on themselves it will be difficult for the government agencies to maintain them,” said Sarin.
“In case of pedestrian bridges where costly equipment such as escalators and lifts have been used, the agencies should even deploy security personnel to guard them,” he added.