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Appraising the Present State and Challenges

of Construction Site Communication in Nigeria

 

FEATURED PAPER

Nathan N. Agu1, Stanley C. Ugochukwu2, Fidelis O. Ezeokoli3, and Uchenna O. Ajator4

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

Nnamdi Azikiwe University

Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria

 



ABSTRACT                                                     

The ever changing needs of construction clients and the pace at which technological advancements have reshaped the world today is re-structuring the way and manner in which on-site communication is carried out. Consequently, the study aimed to assess on-site communication and its challenges in the Nigerian construction industry, with a view to ascertaining the best means of improving communication on construction sites. This was achieved via questionnaires and interviews. A total of 84 copies of questionnaire were administered and 59 were completed, returned and found useful, thus, giving a response rate of 70%. Data garnered were analysed and presented using mean score index, relative importance index, percentages and charts. On-site communication in the Nigerian construction industry is gradually becoming more digitalised, because of the emergence of social media. The use of ICT tools for on-site communication stands at 64% and social media 83%. However, issues such as information overload, procedures/means of communication, difference in background, noise and distractions which are peculiar with construction works hinder on-site communication in the study area. The study recommends that adequate communication software, customized to attend to site communication challenges should be introduced and adopted.

1.0 INTRODUCTION

The construction industry is one of the most booming industries in the world. The industry accounts for about one-third of the world’s gross domestic product, seven percent of employment, half of all resource usage and up to forty percent of energy consumption. The construction industry is also a key indicator and driver of economic activity and wealth creation (Wilma and Marc, 2003). Construction site products such as buildings, roads, bridges are actualised via effective communication among the construction team. Effective and efficient communication depends upon the quality of relationship among clients, professionals (consultants), contractors and sub-contractors.

A number of authors have defined communication in different ways, which are mainly reflections of their points of view and orientation of the concept itself.  One of these authors is Cherry (1966), who defines communication as the establishment of social units from individuals by the use of languages or signs, and the sharing of common sets of rules for various goal-seeking activities. Stanley (2007) also defines communication as a clear, open and timely sharing of information with appropriate individuals or groups. Communication involves transmitting and receiving ideas, information and languages. Communication is one aspect of the management of projects that pervades all others. Effective communication is essential for the functioning of any organization. Breakdown in communication contributes to a group of problems that result in low work quality and productivity

According to Emmit and Gorse (2003), most problems encountered in construction are traceable to faulty communication and communication gaps. Typical information and data on construction sites which have to be passed across or communicated from one point to the other include architectural and structural drawings, service drawings, bills of quantities, specifications and the like. It is very important therefore that these vital documents are sent from the right source, through the right medium(a) in forms or formats the receiver can easily comprehend and delivered to the right person who is expected to carry out the task assigned or take action. An effective feedback mechanism is however needed to make room for corrections and to prevent avoidable mistakes on site. However, on-site communication on construction sites comes with its own difficulties and challenges that need to be surmounted. Information or data may be altered at various stages; from the sender’s end, during the process of transfer through a medium and finally at the receiver’s end. Problems of noise and distortion and the need to overcome these challenges or at least mitigate their negating influence can pose as a serious challenge to all involved in the construction process.

Other options have been exploited over the years to improve the communication processes in the construction industry. The adoption of sophisticated means of gathering, processing, transmitting data and information has thus become necessary (Usman, 2009). Conversely, the ever-changing needs of employers/clients, coupled with the pace at which technological advancements have reshaped world today is re-structuring the way and manner in which on-site communication is carried out. In view of the foregoing, this study aimed to appraise on-site communication and its challenges in the Nigerian construction industry, with a view to ascertaining the best means of improving communication on construction sites.

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About the Authors


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 member of the Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria (QSRBN). 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 Master’s degree 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].

 


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 Master’s 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] .

 


Dr. Uchenna Ajator

Nnamdi Azikiwe University
Anambra State, Nigeria




Dr. Uchenna Ajator
is an associate professor in the Department of Quantity Surveying, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, with vast experience in consultancy and construction. He also has also written a number of books on quantity surveying and cost management of oil and gas projects which has contributed immensely to the development of students and the quantity surveying profession in Nigeria. Dr. Ajator can also be described as a philanthropist, with numerous book donations to the university. His research interests are in cost engineering, construction economics and project cost control. He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (FNIQS) and a registered member of the Quantity Surveyors Registration Board of Nigeria (QSRBN). You can reach him on [email protected]