4.1.1. Main Barrier Groups
Many publications exploring the reasons of delay in mega construction projects have been implemented in developing countries [19
]. Delay in construction projects is the most common problem that the construction industry faces anywhere in the world [12
]. Mega building construction projects make no exceptions. The results of a quantitative investigation on delays of construction projects in Jordan have been carried out by Sweis et al. [22
], indicating that the most of the causes of delay in construction projects have been related to financial difficulties faced by the contractor and too many change orders by the owner.
According to Assaf and Al-Hejji [21
] only 30% of the large construction projects in the Saudi Arabia have been completed on the planned time. Moreover, Faridi and El-Sayegh [23
] have revealed that half of the mega projects in United Arab Emirates (UAE) are not completed without time extension.
Enshassi and Al-Najjar [12
] have attributed the delay in construction projects in the Gaza Strip to twelve factors as follows: project-related; contractors’ responsibilities; consultants’ responsibilities; owners’ responsibilities; professional management; design and documentation; materials; execution; labour and equipment; contractual relationship; government relations; and external factors.
Ruqaishi and Bashir [19
] have identified seven factors behind the delay in the construction projects in Oman: (1) poor site supervision and management by contractors, (2) conflict with subcontractors, (3) lack of project planning by contractors, (4) poor management staff of contractors, (5) delay in procuring the construction materials, (6) lack of effective communication among project stakeholders, and (7) poor interaction between the vendors of the project.
Memon and Rahman [24
] have stated that the cash flow and the financial difficulties of the contractors, bad site supervision and management, lack of the contractor experience, lack of personnel, and inaccurate planning and scheduling by contractors are the main barriers and reasons of delay in the construction industry.
Delay in the mega construction projects in Saudi Arabia may be due to one of following seven groups: client, contractor, consultant, materials, labour, contract, and relationships [25
]. Financial issues, contractor inexperience, delays in reviewing design documents, the shortage of construction materials in the market and other materials required, shortage of manpower and low skill levels, and unrealistic timeframe are considered the main causes of delay for these seven groups.
Al-Emad and Rahman [26
] have mentioned 58 failure factors gathered in four groups as the failure factors of Makkah’s mega construction projects. These groups are client with 17 factors, contractor with 27 factors, consultant with 10 factors, and external with 4 factors. The top factors that cause the delay in these four groups are the interaction between the client and contractor’s responsibilities in choosing the subcontractors, the lack of comprehensive study of the tender documents by the contractors, the lack of staff experience who work in the consultant’s organization, and the sudden change of the legislations of the country.
Adam and Josephson [27
] have categorized the reasons of delay and cost overrun in mega projects as a literature study for the following factors: (1) communication: lack of communication between stakeholders; (2) financial: delayed payment to contractors; (3) management: poor site management; (4) material: shortage of equipment; (5) organizational: unsuitable management structure; (6) project: project complexity; (7) psychological: optimism bias; and (8) weather: harsh weather conditions.
Zarei and Sharifi [28
] have analysed the delay reasons in the mega projects in Iran to main four categories: (1) initial negotiations: absence of industrial feasibility study and capacity planning; (2) contracting processes: delayed payments by owner; (3) planning process: incomplete and ineffective contracts; (4) companies: control process inaccurate or wrong estimation of costs by equipment manufacturing.
Adam and Josephson [27
] have agreed on most of the delay groups in construction projects, while Zarei and Sharifi [28
] have gone in more detail of the delay reasons. Al-Emad and Rahman [26
] have explored the whole factors of delay in reconstruction and they have summarized it in four groups and 54 factors. Adam et al. [27
] have concluded their literature review for all the publications in delay of mega projects with seven groups and less than 30 factors. Al-Kharashi and Skitmore [25
] and Al-Emad and Rahman [26
] have almost similar results because they have targeted the same area, which is Saudi Arabia. The authors of [24
] have concentrated on the management issues as the main reasons of delay in the mega projects.
As a result, the literature has classified the barriers in mega projects to five groups. These groups are: (1) exceeding the contractual period, (2) budget, (3) communication between stakeholders, (4) management experience, and (5) contractual issues. Table 1
summarizes the barrier groups and the references.
4.1.2. Main Barrier Factors in the Identified Groups
The sections below extract the main barrier factors from the barrier groups.
Exceeding the contractual period
The lack of specified construction materials is considered one of main barriers of implementation of mega construction projects in many countries around the world [28
]. Without the availability of construction materials when needed, it is impossible to complete the construction activities on time [21
]. Even if the basic construction materials are available in the country, they are not enough to complete the project. There are some essential and unique materials that are in the critical path, causing the delay of the project [25
Delay in decision making, either by the contractor or by the supervision team, hinders the progress in the implementation of the construction activities [30
]. The delay in taking the decision frustrates the stakeholders and causes a cumulative delay in the time schedule [31
]. The delay in taking the decision is mainly referred to the lack of delegation from the top management level to the lowest level in the project [32
Frequent change orders due to the unforeseen conditions during the execution, or lack of clarity of the tender documents, negatively affect the time schedule of the mega projects [33
]. The process of preparing and proceeding the Variation Orders (V.O) and the negotiation with the contractors is not a straightforward process due to the conflict of interest between the stakeholders [34
]. Sometimes a debate may occur with the contractor in order to implement such variation order because the contractor considers the V.O as his chance to increase the profit ratio [11
The vague tender documents, and the complexity of the project, have a significant impact on the duration of mega projects [33
]. The contractor may spend many hours in illustrating the description in some items and this increases the rework activities due to the misunderstanding of the process [32
]. The chance of issuing the V.O is increased due to the complexity of the project and lack of ability to implement some items [29
The top challenge in the construction industry, as mentioned by [25
], is the lack of experienced and qualified personnel attributed to the significant and large scale of the construction projects. The poor productivity of the labourers contribute to the increase of the implementation period of the project [29
]. The poor management of the construction site causes the lack of the productivity and waste of project resources [37
Bad weather and climate in the implementation area contribute to delay in execution of some activities [27
]. Usually, the period of mega construction projects extends for more than one year, which means that the project will be affected by the weather of all the seasons [19
]. The winter or cold weather has a negative impact on the implementation rather than hot weather due to the concrete works and the harsh accessibility to the construction site [28
The instability of the political situation negatively affects the time schedule of the project and may increase by twice or more [10
]. The security issue prevents international experts from contributing to the implementation of some activities and causes difficulties in communication with international companies to procure some items which are not available in the local market [13
The poor preparation of cash flow by the contractor causes trouble during the implementation between the sub-contractors and the main contractor due to delay in the payments for them [38
]. The contractor usually takes a loan from the bank to start the implementation, but after three months he could not commit his obligations due to the poor preparation of cash flow [28
]. Ruqaishi and Bashir [19
] state that the cost overrun and the contractor loss occur due to rush in preparing the cash flow.
Delay in preparing the payment request from the contractor side causes trouble in the financial progress of the project [37
]. The delay in preparing payments, and the calculation errors in the payments, may be attributed to the lack of admin staff of the contractor [39
]. Moreover, due to the complexity of the implemented works, the freshly graduated engineers who work on the project may not be able to prepare the payments, so the contractor will not be able to implement some scheduled works [24
Delay in payments to the contractors by the owner hinders the implementation of the project and decreases the trust between the stakeholders [25
]. The main delay in this section is the delay without reasons, such as calculation errors. This delay causes problems in the cash flow of the contractor [32
]. The contractor may submit a claim to compensate the unjustified delay in transferring the payments to him, which means, accordingly, that the cost of the project will increase [24
Insufficient contractor liquidity is one of the main reasons of cost overrun in construction projects [10
]. The contractor is forced to take a loan from the bank to cover the deficit in liquidity, which means that interest will increase and the project cost will increase too [29
]. The sub-contractors may refuse to work with the contractor and the vendors, because he will not pay them on time, and consequently the project duration and cost will increase [36
The increase in the cost of the construction materials is out of the contractor control, but it is a potential risk in the implementation, and it should be considered [12
]. The cost of the construction materials may be increased due to the political situation or other reasons [25
]. The contractor may cheat to compensate this new cost, so that the opportunity of reworking the items will increase [30
Communication between stakeholders
The vagueness of communication channels between stakeholders hinders the effective communications during the implementation, and impedes solving the pending issues [33
]. The owner is responsible for defining the communication channels. He/she is the focal point for each stakeholder in order to ensure that the construction works are progressing smoothly [28
]. Ramabodu and Verster [35
] have pointed out that the miscommunication between stakeholders in the project site results in the failure of the project itself in some cases.
The conflict of interest between stakeholders is one of the critical issues in mega projects, and the construction projects in general [26
]. The contractor aims to have a sufficient ratio of profit, while the owner aims to reduce the cost as much as possible [43
]. The conflict of interest is risky in the construction environment because the owner will not forgive the contractor if a mistake happens, while the contractor will try to find any gaps in the contract documents to gain more money or end up in corruption [44
The lack of owner cooperation with other stakeholders hinders the decision making process and causes a delay in the time schedule [46
]. The owner of the project may not be available all the time in the construction site, but all the stakeholders inquiries should be answered because he/she is the end user of the project [30
]. Without periodic meetings, which are called by owner to organize the work or take the necessary decisions on the pending issue, the construction progress will not go smoothly [44
Conflict of responsibilities in dealing with external parties is one of the critical issues in implementing the mega construction projects [32
]. For example, the owner is responsible for dealing with the electricity network company, and failing to inform the supervision team about this will cause a work duplication, causing conflict as well [48
Frequent changes in supervision and contractor teams may cause a significant delay in the project period and the quality of the implemented works [17
]. After understanding the tender documents, which takes several days, and proceeding with the implementation, the overall team may be changed from the contractor side to have effective resources management. This has a bad effect on the project implementation [29
]. Moreover, the supervision team will need additional time to know how to deal with the new contractor team and vice versa [28
The lack of communication between the designer and the project staff causes a significant risk in the execution process because the designer has sufficient knowledge about the owner requirements and specifications that have been prepared by him [21
]. The communication between the designer and the project teams saves project time and ensures that the implemented works are executed as required by the owner and designer [44
Shehu and Akintoye [29
] have attributed the delay in the mega construction projects to the failure in implementation and practice of program management. The main challenges of implementing the program management are the lack of strategic focus, human and communication, financial factors, leadership and commitment, strategy and awareness, and benefits understanding [1
]. The poor qualifications of the contractor staff cause bad quality in the implemented works [52
El-Sabek and McCabe [52
] have also mentioned that the delay in the mega project in some parts of the Middle East is due to the poor planning stage and the lack of management experience of the supervision staff. Corruption will happen if the supervision team is not good enough to manage the work in mega projects [29
Lack of controlling and monitoring from the owner encourages the contractor to rush in the execution, submitting bad quality works. In addition, the supervision team will not work perfectly [27
]. The lack of a staff organization structure damages the communication channels in the project site [25
]. Finally, the difficulties in the management of the human and non-human resources by the contractor cause a real delay in the mega projects, wasting the project budget [28
Awarding decision, which is made based on the lowest bidder only, is one of the riskiest issues in mega projects [12
]. The lowest bidder may not be qualified enough to implement a large scale construction project [24
]. It usually puts a low percentage of profit during pricing. Accordingly, he/she may try to implement the work with low quality [25
]. El-Sabek and McCabe [52
] have pointed out that the awarding process of the lowest bidder encourages contractor corruption to compensate the profit ratio.
When the nature of the contract is not compatible with the size and the budget of mega projects, this causes actual delay in the project [23
]. Most of the mega projects are implemented based on the lowest bidder analysis, which is not in line with the size and the budget of the mega project, so that non-qualified contractors submit their offers [41
]. The contractor type is essential to provide the flexibility during the implementation [52
Challenges in securing experts from outside to implement some activities causes some delay in the mega projects. Due to security reasons, some international consultants refuse to work in the project area. Therefore, some items are delayed in the implementation [33
]. El-Sabek and McCabe [52
] have mentioned that due to the lack of coordination between the contractor and the international consultant, many consultants refuse to work with the contractor.
The contract parties could not adhere contract requirements due to the political situation that hinders the mega projects [40
]. Enshassi and Al-Najjar [12
] have pointed out that the contractor usually could not implement the works due to error in pricing or lack of cash. The owner sometimes suspends the work in the project or cancels the work due to the lack of funds [12
Without prequalification of contractors before bidding, the conflict will happen between the project stakeholders [52
]. Moreover, for the contractors who used to implement small scale construction projects, it is not easy to implement a large scale project [36
]. The prequalification process enables the designer to explain what he meant by some items, or clear the conflicts in the tender documents [56
The designer who has insufficient background about the situation is one of most complex contractual issues [21
]. The designer who lacks sufficient experience about the nature of the project area will surely prepare vague tender documents with items that could not be implemented or construction materials that are not available [36
]. Some owners trust an international designer rather than a local one, so the cost of the project may be doubled or tripled [12
below summarizes the main barrier groups and the sources associated with them.