Experiences in several Latin American countries, show the promises, and challenges of contracting out road maintenance, based on performance standards, rather than on the traditional way, which is based on a schedule of unit prices, and estimates of quantities. Performance standards are defined by: the International Roughness Index (IRI) to measure road surfaces, as it affects vehicle operating costs; by the absence of potholes, and the control of cracks, and rutting; by the minimum amount of friction between tires, and the road surface for safety reasons; by the maximum amount of siltation, or other obstruction of the drainage system; by the retro-flexivity of road signs, and markings; and, by the control of vegetation close to the roadway, according to a specific, given height. Lessons suggest first of all, a careful planning of performance specifications, for the successful implementation of pilot schemes for contracting out road maintenance; secondly, close collaboration between road administrations, and contractors is paramount to achieve substantial improvement of road conditions; and, management, financial, and technical training is recommended, particularly for less-experienced contractors.
Cutting Costs and Improving Quality Through Performance Specified Road Maintenance Contracts -- Pilot experiences in Latin America offer lessons for Africa
Africa Transport Technical Note No.14
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