Afghanistan Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Services Program(IRP) written in English, Dari and Pashto
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Presentation Explains the Success of Performance-based Contracting in Afghanistan
A group of Afghan road subcontractors stand along a roadway examining ways to repair a rock slide on the Panjshir Road.
Afghan road subcontractors examine ways to repair a rock slide on the Panjshir Road.
25 May 2010 - At the first plenary session of the 16th World Meeting of the International Road Federation in Lisbon, Portugal, two engineers associated with USAID’s Afghanistan Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Program made a presentation that highlighted the success of Afghan subcontractors in maintaining the roads in Afghanistan.

The engineers focused on how the program implements performance-based contracting, a method that holds subcontractors responsible for managing routine and emergency repairs and pays them if the work meets pre-set standards. “The arrangement allocates higher risk to the contractor,” one of the presenters said, “but at the same time creates opportunities for increased profit margins when improved efficiency and effectiveness lower the cost of achieving each performance standard.”

The three-year program includes an intensive, sequenced series of training sessions—in the classroom and in the field. Subcontractors are taught not only the most durable repair techniques, but they also learn to manage their operations to make them competitive. “This is a new thing, the performance based contract,” said the owner of Bcura Construction Company that participates in the program. “There are new constructions standards that we were not used to. This is how people learn.”

The presenters also stressed the importance of the Road Management Unit (RMU), a component of the program that builds capacity within the Ministry of Public Works (MPW). “The RMU provides training and mentoring for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the MPW, and local officials,” they said. “The purpose is to create an authority capable of managing all of the roads.”

At present, three Afghan subcontractors maintain over 1500 kilometers of road, employing an average of 1600 people per month. The presenter who has spent the past three years training the crews and setting up the RMU left little doubt as to the outcome. ”There are now well-qualified Afghan road contractors, making money, who can handle the roads,” he said. “There don’t need to be non-Afghan companies doing this.”

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