MAINTENANCE OF BUILDINGS OF PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS IN GHANA
A building fabric is referred to as an “environmental envelope” because it is the means by which the natural or external environment may be modified, to produce a satisfactory internal environment for man to live in. The deterioration of buildings hampers its ability to perform adequately, thus is important to ensure proper maintenance to prevent deterioration.
Public buildings represent significant investment of the tax payers’ money and therefore preserving these building systems is important. Due to the neglect of the maintenance component of the housing process in the country, a lot of public and private residential buildings are in a state of disrepair.
In view of the above, this study was designed to assess the current condition of public buildings, identify the underlying principal causes of poor maintenance of public buildings, analyse the maintenance policy and practice and capacity of the maintenance and estate departments of public institutions and make suggestions and recommendations towards the adoption of effective maintenance policy and innovations that would address the building maintenance problem in public institutions.
The field investigations focused on residential buildings of GPS, GHS nurses quarters and UEW-K. Three different housing types were defined for data collection and analyses including: bungalows, tenement houses and single unit houses. Through the application of multi-stage cluster sampling and purposive and random sampling techniques, 176 buildings were covered in the survey. The survey revealed that there is a real housing maintenance problem in public institutions in Ghana. The study revealed that on the whole, 83 percent of all residential buildings of public institutions surveyed have maintenance problems with maintenance problem being more prominent in GPS and UEW-K with 41.2 percent and 30.8 percent of their buildings in a bad condition, with 14.3 percent of those of GHS in the same situation.
Maintenance problems by housing types in public institution revealed that building maintenance problems are more pronounced in single unit houses than tenement houses and bungalows with 48.4 percent, 37.5 percent and 5 percent respectively in
bad condition. However, tenement houses had the highest buildings with good condition, with 37.5 percent of all tenement houses surveyed in good condition requiring the least or no maintenance.
The study also established the following factors as being responsible for the poor maintenance of public buildings: The age of the buildings, Lack of maintenance culture, Inadequate funds and high maintenance cost, Pressure on building facilities by number of users and Poor construction work and maintenance work done by maintenance personnel of the institution. Stakeholders in the housing sector also added to the problem has arisen as a result of lack of preventive maintenance plan, low capacity of maintenance personnel in terms of staffing and training, absence of a national maintenance policy and apathy and lack of patriotism on the part of some public employees occupying government bungalows.
The study concludes by enumerating a number of recommendations aimed at providing the necessary framework for proper and effective maintenance of buildings. These are: the need for public institutions to embrace preventive maintenance practice as a high priority rather than adhoc maintenance. Managers are to oversee periodic inspections of buildings’ conditions and create an inventory of buildings’ components and equipment. Public institutions should ensure that their maintenance department is adequately staffed. There is also the need for a national policy on maintenance to be formulated to protect buildings, institution of a maintenance awards scheme for public institutions and establishing a maintenance fund to be managed for maintenance of public buildings in the country.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY AND PROBLEM CONTEXT
Physical infrastructure constitutes a high proportion of the country’s investment. It is therefore of primary importance that these facilities which include public buildings are maintained in order that they can serve both the architectural and aesthetical functions for which they are built. The physical appearance of buildings housing public institutions in part constitutes the basis upon which the society makes their initial judgment of the quality of services to be offered.
One of the critical problems confronting the housing industry in Ghana is the poor maintenance practice (Afranie and Osei Tutu, 1999). The role of Public Institutions in National development cannot be over-emphasized. However, in spite of the heavy investment in public buildings, Public institutions allow their structures to care for themselves without any sustainable maintenance plan to preserve the quality of the buildings. The continued efficient and effective performance of public institutions depends on the nature of their buildings in addition to other factors such as enhanced conditions of service, provision of the requisite tools etc.
Public Institution buildings consist of both dwelling (residential accommodation) and non-dwelling (office accommodation). Both residential buildings as well as office buildings are prone to defects due to their permanent and lengthy usage. All elements of buildings deteriorate at a greater or lesser rate dependent on materials and methods of construction, environmental conditions and the use of the buildings (HMSO 1972).
According to Seeley 1987, neglect of maintenance has accumulative results with rapidly increasing deterioration of the fabric and finishes of a building accompanied by harmful effects on the contents and occupants. Therefore, buildings are too valuable assets to be neglected in this way. In his hierarchy of needs theory Maslow (1954) identifies five basic needs which are organized into successive level of importance in an ascending order. He identified physiological needs as the most basic needs of human beings which include air, food, water, shelter (housing), sex and sleep.
BS 3811(1984), define ‘maintenance’ as “The combination of all technical and associated administrative actions intended to retain an item in, or restore it to, a state in which it can perform its required function.”
Maintenance brings about improved utilization of buildings ensuring the highest safety standards. It must be emphasized that more rather than less maintenance work is necessary if the value and amenity of the nation’s building stock was to be maintained. A good maintenance system is also a good disaster mitigation system. Moreover, a well operated system of maintenance for buildings and equipment has the effect of being a very effective disaster mitigation measure in terms of cost and facility usage. It ensures the most economic way to keep the building and equipment in the best of form for normal use, given the original design and materials (http\\www.oas.org\en\cdmp).
Maintenance, which can also be explained as the continuous protective care of the fabric, contents and settings of a place can be categorized according to why and when it happens, as corrective maintenance, which is necessary to bring a building to an accepted standard. Planned maintenance is work to prevent failure, which recurs predictably within the life of a building such as cleaning gutters or painting. Emergency Corrective Maintenance deals with work that must be initiated immediately for health, safety, security reasons or that may result in the rapid deterioration of the structure or fabric if not undertaken (for example, roof repairs after storm damage, graffiti removal, or repairing broken glasses).
When buildings are neglected, defects can occur which may result in extensive and avoidable damage to the building fabric or equipment. Poor maintenance has resulted in damage and deterioration to some public buildings in Ghana. Neglect of maintenance especially in relation to replacing electricity cables after thirty of use can also give rise to fire and safety hazards, which could result in the Institution owning the buildings being found liable for any injuries and damages. Another case in point is the Job 600 built by Ghana’s first President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to host
the Organization of African Unity meeting in 1965 has its main building quite rundown and has been under renovation for many years now. The present state of this public building could be attributed to lack of maintenance and neglect after being put into use.
1.2 Problem Statement
Many Ghanaian public structures are often inadequately maintained and windows and doors and other building elements and facilities frequently show evidence of lack of maintenance and repair.
Some residential and office buildings of public institutions have not seen any significant maintenance or show little signs of maintenance since they were constructed, some dating back to the colonial era. This has resulted in such buildings being in a dilapidated state with some being abandoned. This lack of maintenance by the authorities and occupants of these facilities often leads to reduced lifespan of these buildings (Melvin, 1992), which invariably defeat the purpose for which they are put up i.e. to ensure that the nation’s stock of buildings, both as a factor of production and accommodation, was used effectively as possible.
The problem of ownership of these buildings, where occupants regard it not as their own property but a state property and handle it without due care largely have resulted in the state in which most public buildings find it. In some cases occupants do not recognize the building as their property and hence have passive attachment in relation to the efficient use and maintenance of the building.
Most offices, especially those outside the capital city, Accra, are dilapidated and lacked the basic necessities and facilities such as toilet due to its state of deterioration of a functioning office. However new buildings are being put up every now and then without giving a thought to the maintenance of the old structures which have been neglected. Frequent visits to the Ministries area of the Kumasi metropolis which houses these public institutions by this researcher depicts the abhorring situations in some public institutions with the buildings showing cracks on the walls, rotten wooden members, leaking roofs and missing louver blades, faded and discoloured surface coating (painting).
Lack of maintenance of some police buildings including police cells in recent times have resulted in jailbreaks in some police stations in the country leading to the escape of hardened criminals in custody, some educational institutions especially basic schools holding classes in the open air at the mercy of the weather.
Vital documents in some of these public institutions have not been spared due to poor or non-maintenance of the building. The dilapidated nature of the residential facility has also left the properties of the occupants at the mercy of the weather. These problems arising out of the present situation as far as maintenance of building in the public sector is concerned lowers morale of the labour force and goes a long way to reduce the efficiency of the personnel.
In view of these, it has been considered necessary to study the maintenance of public building in Ghana to identify the factors contributing to the current state of building in the public institutions since building owners are increasingly beginning to accept that it is not in their best interest to carry out maintenance in a purely reactive manner but that it should be planned and managed as efficiently as any other corporate activity.
1.3 Research Questions
In embarking upon such study, certain questions should be answered before any credible conclusions can be drawn. The following questions were posed.
1. What are the current state/ level of non-maintenance of residential buildings of the public institutions in Ghana?
2. What are the reasons or factors that have accounted for non maintenance of public buildings?
3. What maintenance policies and practices are in place as far as public institutions are concerned and the capacity of human resource of their maintenance department?
4. How can public institutions ensure continued maintenance of their buildings in order to retain their current stock of buildings as well as improve on their condition?
1.4 Research Objectives
1.4.1 General Objective
The study is generally expected to evaluate the building maintenance practices being employed in public institutions and its effect on the structure as the users of the building.
1.4.2 Specific Objectives of the study are to:
1. Assess the current condition and state of buildings of public institutions
2. Identify the underlying principal causes of poor maintenance of public buildings.
3. Analyse the maintenance policy and practice and capacity of the maintenance department of public institutions.
4. Make suggestions and recommendations towards the adoption of effective maintenance policy and innovations that would address the building maintenance problem in public institutions.
1.5 Research Justification
This study is essential in the sense that it would not only contribute to knowledge and theory, but will also contribute to good maintenance practice in the public institutions in Ghana. This is because the study will attempt to find out the factors that have contributed to the present state of non-maintenance of public buildings some of which have been abandoned due to its state of deterioration and recommend appropriate remedial actions to be taken.
Furthermore the study will assist managers of public institutions to become aware of the current state of their building infrastructure and its effect on the safety and health of personnel and also to put in place adequate innovative measures to prevent new buildings put up to suffer deterioration which ultimately lead to increased cost in restoring these buildings to their original state.
It will provide a critical and analytical perspective for appreciating the factors affecting the decisions to carry out maintenance. In addition, the study will bring to the fore the major inhibiting factors in the maintenance of public buildings in Ghana.
With increasing demand for efficiency and effectiveness from workers in the public sector by the populace, this study will attempt to establish the linkage between the present states of public buildings in relation to the social and economic impact to public workers.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study was limited to residential buildings of selected public institutions in the Kumasi Metropolis of the Ashanti Region of Ghana. It examined the maintenance of residential buildings of the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Health Service Nurses quarters and those of University of Education-Winneba, Kumasi campus.
1.7 Limitations of the Study
Data gathering suffered due to delay in getting responses due to the schedule of work of especially personnel of the GPS. In addition records keeping was a problem for all the institutions surveyed such that in some situation researcher had to collate the number of buildings himself. This also resulted in difficulty in identifying the buildings.
Notwithstanding the above limitations, the study results have not been affected and thus are credible, reliable and useful for any purposes of evaluation and feedback. This was made possible because researcher assisted especially the GPS in putting up a data base for its residential buildings in the study area.
1.8 Organisation of the Report
The study has been organized under five chapters. Chapter one, covers the introductory part and it includes the problem statement, research questions, objectives, significance of the study, the scope and the limitations. The second chapter deals with the review of relevant literature on the subject. Thus, ideas of some researchers and authors have been reviewed.
Chapter three focused on the methodology adopted in undertaking the research. The analysis of the data gathered is dealt with in chapter four, whilst chapter five presents a summary of the key findings, recommendations and conclusion..