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Appraising the Potentials of Alternative Dispute Resolution

as a Strategy for Resolving Conflicts on Construction Projects in Onitsha Metropolis, Anambra State, Nigeria

 

FEATURED PAPER

By Ezeokoli, Fidelis O.1, Ugochukwu, Stanley C.2, Ilozulike Kaetonna A.3 and Agu, Nathan N.4

1,3Department of Building
2,4Department of Quantity Surveying

Nnamdi Azikiwe University

Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria

 



ABSTRACT

The upsurge of construction activities in Onitsha Metropolis has led to difficult management of relationships among various contracting parties. Consequently, the study examined the use of ADR as a strategy for resolving conflicts on construction projects in Onitsha Metropolis Anambra State, Nigeria. A total of 56 questionnaires were administered to the respondents and they were all completed, returned and found useful, thus, giving a response rate of 100%. Data garnered were analysed and presented using mean score index, standard deviation, percentages and charts. The study observed that 77% of construction professionals prefer to resolve using ADR rather than going to court. Thus, ADR is significantly preferred in the study area for resolving construction dispute. This is because it is faster, cheaper and preserves relationships. Nevertheless, ADR lacks enforceability in the study area; hence, there is need for establishment of Dispute Review Board within the study area. In addition, construction practitioners within Onitsha metropolis should be trained on the use of ADR techniques through workshops, symposia or seminars. It should also be incorporated as a major section of the “Law of Contract” during academic trainings of intending construction professionals.

1.0 INTRODUCTION

The construction industry involves complex and competitive environment in which participants with different views, talents and levels of knowledge of the construction process work together (Cakmak & Cakmak, 2013). Hence, Odiri (2004) notes that in every industry where people have to work together there is a tendency/possibility for conflicts to arise. Nevertheless, there is still a misunderstanding among construction professionals about the difference between conflict and dispute, and these terms have been used interchangeably especially in the construction industry (Acharya, Lee, & Im, 2006). However, Fenn, Lowe and Speck (1997) assert that conflict and dispute are two distinct notations. Conflict exists wherever there is incompatibility of interest. Conflict can be managed, possibly to the extent of preventing a dispute resulting from the conflict. In view of this, Corby (2003) defined dispute as a difference between the parties after the internal resolution procedure has been exhausted.

According to Suretylearn (2014) conflict in the construction industry can be resolved using any of the four options: litigation, negotiation, meditation and arbitration. Litigation according to Suretylearn (2014) entails resolving dispute through the court system, while the remaining three are classified as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). It has been proved that litigation is costly, lengthy and adversarial (Cheung, Wong & Kennedy, 2010). Thus, the use of ADR has been advocated to address these criticisms (Cheung, Wong & Kennedy, 2010).

According to Gould (1998), ADR is a structured process with third party intervention which does not lead to a legally binding outcome imposed on the parties. Although the concept of dispute resolution techniques as an alternative to the traditional court-based system is not new; yet the ADR movement brings with it a connotation of innovation (Gould, 1998). The more recent advent of the acronym is essentially taken to describe the use of a third party mediator who assists the parties to arrive at a voluntary, consensual, negotiated settlement.

Conversely, Suleman (2015) noted that a careful survey of the socio-political environment of the Nigerian building and construction sector reveal increasing incidents of disputes and disagreements of many shades among stakeholders. Also, the implementation of Nigeria’s infrastructural development master plan and other agenda for rapid infrastructure transformation of Nigeria has led to major boom in economic activities in the building and construction sector. With the upsurge in construction activities, the management of relationships between various contracting parties to construction projects becomes increasingly problematic. Consequently, this study sought to examine the use of ADR as a strategy for resolving conflicts on construction projects in Onitsha Metropolis, Anambra State, Nigeria.

1.2 The Study Area

Onitsha metropolis in Anambra State, Nigeria comprises Onitsha North and Onitsha South Local Government Area (LGA) and some parts of Ogbaru, Idemili North and Oyi LGAs. It is a city located on the eastern bank of the Niger River; lies within Latitude 6° 10ʹ 0ʺ North and Longitude 6° 47ʹ 0ʺ East. It is the commercial hub of Anambra State with an estimated population 511, 000 based on the 2006 census (NPC, 2006). Being the commercial hub of the state, lots of building construction projects takes place in order to provide the housing needs of the growing populace. This is buttressed by the significant number of building construction companies within the area. Consequently, they are adequate and experienced respondents with respect to disputes resolution.

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About the Authors


Fidelis Ezeokoli

Nnamdi Azikiwe University
Anambra State, Nigeria

 


Fidelis Ezeokoli
is a Lecturer in the Department of Building, Nnamdi Azikiwe University with vast experience in building construction and management. He has successfully delivered a number of building projects to time, desired quality and within the client’s budget. He graduated with a first class in Building, Nnamdi Azikiwe University at the first Degree level, and was the overall best student in his Masters programme in Construction Management in Nnamdi Azikiwe University. He is presently running a PhD programme in construction management. His research interests are in flood resilient buildings, building materials and project management. He is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Building (MNIOB) and is registered with the Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON). You can reach him on [email protected].

 


Stanley Ugochukwu

Nnamdi Azikiwe University
Anambra State, Nigeria

 

 

Stanley Ugochukwu is a lecturer in the Department of Quantity Surveying, Nnamdi Azikiwe University. He has a strong desire and passion to bring his wealth of professional experience to bear on his students and to produce well equipped graduates that will add value to the profession and make a positive impact on the Nigerian construction industry. He graduated as the best student in Quantity Surveying, Nnamdi Azikiwe University at the first Degree level, and repeated same in his Masters programme in Construction Management, University of Jos, Nigeria. He is presently rounding off his PhD programme in construction management.  His research interests are in construction tendering, estimating and infrastructure budgeting. Stanley is also a member of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (MNIQS) and is registered with the Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria (QSRBN). You can reach him on [email protected].

 


Andrew Ilozulike

Nnamdi Azikiwe University
Anambra State, Nigeria

 


Andrew Ilozulike
is a graduate of Building, Nnamdi Azikiwe University. He is a building construction manager at Shelter Worth & Bricks Limited, Onitsha-Anambra State, Nigeria. He was recently involved in the construction of the Shoe Manufacturers’ Market at Nkwelle, Anambra State. His professional skills include: building construction management, construction estimation and AutoCAD designs. His research interest is construction dispute resolution. You can reach him on [email protected]

 


Dr. Nathan Agu

Nnamdi Azikiwe University
Anambra State, Nigeria

 


Dr. Nathan Agu
is a senior lecturer in the Department of Quantity Surveying, Nnamdi Azikiwe University and the principal partner of Nathquants Associates, a firm of chartered Quantity Surveyors based in Enugu State, Nigeria. His research interests are in professional practice management and construction arbitration. He has a number of notable professional achievements as a professional quantity surveyor and has contributed immensely to the development of the quantity surveying profession in Nigeria. He is also a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (FNIQS) and a registered and executive member of the Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria (QSRBN). You can reach him on [email protected]