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Opinions Wed, 21 Nov 2018

Move from asset management to facilities management – 2019 budget

Some may call it a political budget, others, the 2019 budget that will pave the way for Ghana’s prosperity. People’s opinion are mostly subject to their political affiliation. For me and a thousand out there, we stand for Ghana and her success.

It was like a dream come true when I heard the finance minister in his mid-term budget presentation to the parliament of Ghana mention the preparation of government to submit a bill for the establishment of a Ghana Asset Management Corporation.

This corporation he said will ensure the efficient management of the massive infrastructure investment Ghana is about to receive. I also want to believe this establishment will cater for existing infrastructure; we are yet to find out!

What happened to Public Works Department (PWD)? The Government’s Estate Agent, charged with the responsibility of supervising the construction and maintenance of all Government bungalows, office blocks and other landed properties. What has happened to it?

In the words of the deputy works and housing minister, Mrs. Freda Prempeh; “The PWD had in the past, used to be vibrant but now has dwindled due to decentralization where some of the staff had been transferred to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies and the Regional Coordinating Councils,”.

Do we then say that in our quest to decentralize governance, the built environment has been radically affected thereby losing huge investments? I’m sure you can answer that. I believe in local governance but we must get the framework right!

What will be the correlation between the PWD and the Ghana Asset Management Corporation when it is created? Is it going to govern the works of the PWD officers at the MMDAs? How will it relate to the Ghana Highway Authority?

What will be its connection to Urban and Feeder Roads, Parks and Gardens amongst others? When can we as a nation have an integrated body, managing Ghana’s built environment? I drive around town and it seems there are no authorities managing our built environment! From poor infrastructure maintenance practice, bad landscaping, poor workplace management, compromised workforce’s wellbeing among others.

A healthy built environment plays a key role in the socioeconomic development of our nation Ghana. When are we going to see the relevance of Facilities Management as a necessary tool in safeguarding our investments and shaping our sustainability efforts?

Can we have a Ghana Facilities Management Corporation rather than having a Ghana Asset Management Corporation? The former speaks directly to our national needs than the latter. Asset management is a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets in the most cost-effective manner (including all costs, risks and performance attributes).

Facilities Management according to the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) is a business tool that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of the built environment by integrating people, place, process and technology.

Whereas asset management’s concept runs on a more stern approach to saving money and maximizing returns on one’s investment, Facilities management is fusing asset management, health, safety, productivity and wellbeing of the built environment. Government’s proposal is a limited scope of work considering Ghana’s demand for the built environment’s sustainability.

For instance, when it comes to road management, an asset management corporation by its remit will solely be focused on inspection, maintaining and repairing roads whereas a facilities management corporation will as part of its asset management duties, be also concerned about how the road users feel with regards to enough vision at night, adequate road communication signs that will reduce accidents, oversee an efficient traffic management plan that will get motorists to work on time thereby increasing productivity.

A facilities Management Corporation will develop environmental sustainability measures along the road by ensuring trees are planted along the roads to reduce the higher urban temperatures due to reflective and impermeable surfaces. Trees along the road lessens direct heat from hitting the road surfaces, creating a cooler temperature for all and bringing to light the global sustainable development goals of which Ghana’s president His excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo plays a major role.

In delivering the 2030 agenda for the sustainable development goals outlined by the United Nations, we can’t sideline the input of facilities management. The 17 goals outlined by the UN places a major role on facilities management hence the need for a Ghana Facilities Management Corporation.

The integrated goals sets a target for a vision on a better world. A better world is not achievable without the direct managers of the built environment, the facility manager. The big question is; do we have facility managers in the country? The last time I checked, the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) through the Ghana chapter has finished the training and accreditation of 11 Ghanaians as professionals who have the Facility Management Professional (FMP) credential. I don’t see how an Asset Management Corporation will develop managers of the built environment when it is what we actually need as a nation.

A Ghana Facilities Management Corporation should develop facility managers with the support of accredited groups like IFMA to manage and sustain Ghana’s built environment, maximizing the efficiency and life expectancy of our assets and contributing to the global goals. Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all is the mandate of the 6th SDG.

On a larger scale, government can make sure there’s clean and portable water for everyone. Government can make Accra the cleanest city but just like the local governance module, we need professional facility managers stationed across the country in different capacities and at different levels to advice, manage and sustain government’s efforts.

Water and sanitation is not discussed in board rooms because facility managers are not in the board rooms. Discussing it in the board room will develop strategies for prudent use of water, waste management and other ways that will harness an integrated mindset to achieve the 6th global goal. Facilities management sometimes takes the largest share of an organization’s running cost because it supports the business’ non-core functions yet decision making bodies haven’t realized its critical nature in business success just like the government hasn’t realized it for nation building.

In conclusion I will advise the government to rethink its proposal of establishing a Ghana Asset Management Corporation. Asset management is a subset of Facilities management therefore it will do this nation well if we adapt a facilities management concept rather than an asset management model.

A broader consultation in drafting of the bill with relevant stakeholders such as the Ghana Institute of Surveyors and the Ghana chapter of the International Facilities Management Association should bring us to a meaningful end. Getting it right should put Ghana on the world stage as a people managing and sustaining the built environment for the good of all humanity.

BY: NICHOLAS SOLOMON( Project & Facilities Management Consultant)

A member of the International Facilities Management Association Phone: +233 244 5667

Columnist: Nicholas Solomon
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