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For Partners
The Algeria East - west Highway: Aninterim Report
Ngày đăng: 10/05/2011 - Lượt xem: 1674



This paper is about how a consortium of five Japanese companies (COJAAL: Consortium Japonais Pour LAutoroute Algerienne) is undertaking to build a 399 km, six-lane, limited-access highway across northern Algeria.    The paper starts with the bidding process, the evaluation method and the structure of contracts that govern the construction of the project on a design-build basis. Since the contractor is allowed to alter, and therefore is responsible for, highway routing to a certain extent, the paper describes how this discretionary power was  exercised to determine the final location of the highway.  The paper then goes on to outline organizational setup, physical and design parameters, procurement and logistics, and construction execution plans. As  of  February 2009, the contractor is about 29 months into the project, whose duration was originally set at 40 months.The paper highlights events and/or issues that have had time impacts since its commencement in September  2006.  Some sections of the project have faced major landslides.Other sections are being impacted by a shortfall of critical materials such as crushed gravels for pavement. The contractor also experienced complications from having to build a project to the French standard when natural conditions in Algeria do not necessarily lend themselves to the French standard.  Sourcing and mobilizing labor from out-of-the-country markets in sufficient numbers and having them work efficiently on a stretch of construction sites extending over hundreds of kilometers have added to the task of coordination and control. As such, the paper represents an interim report on, and a case study of, managerial and technical challenges that an overseas project of this magnitude and scope can present to the contractor, as well as approaches that can be taken to meet such challenges.

KEYWORDS: highway construction, design-build management, construction standards




In September 2006 a consortium of Japanese contractors (Cojaal: Consortium Japonais  Pour LAutoroute   Algerienne)   signed a ¥5.4 billion design-build contract for a 399 km eastern section of the  Algeria East-West Highway, one of the largest civil construction projects ever to be undertaken by one entity in the history of the Japanese construction industry.


The award  was  a  result  of  international biddings conducted by the Algeria Public Works Ministry in January 2006 to build out a contiguous 1,200 km East-West Highway from the Moroccan border to the Tunisian  border. The  Ministry  divided  up  the Highway into three sections of approximately equal size,  with  Chinese  contractors  coming  out  as  the winners of the western and central sections. Of the six  bidders who competed for the eastern section, Cojaal bid the highest. Bid evaluation assigned 60 points to technical and 40 points to financial. Cojaal succeeded in tipping the scale largely on the strength of  technical merits that it earned for a crash construction   program  utilizing  global  positioning systems, and contingency   planning for the earthquake hazard.

    Figure 1.1  gives  an  outline  of  the  Project,  while


Table 1.1 details the structure of contracts as well as

how each contract defines contractors design-build responsibilities. Of particular note is the contractors right to propose alternative routes over large stretches of the Highway.
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Figure 1.1 Project Outline


Table 1.1 Structure of Contracts



As of February 2009, Cojaal is approximately 29 months into the 40 month project. In what follows, the paper describes how Cojaal set itself up to handle this enormous undertaking, and what it encountered once the project got under way. As such, this is an interim report  on  managerial and technical challenges that an overseas project of this magnitude and  scope can present to the contractor, as well as approaches that can be taken to meet such challenges.



The ¥5.4 billion contract amount was introduced at the last stage of contract negotiations with the Employer as a  cut-off  point for the aggregate payments that Cojaal is entitled to receive inexchange of completing a yet-to-be-designed Highway whose routes are subject to change. The only exceptions are  cost and time associated with variation  orders,  force  majeure,  and  other  causes attributable to the Employer.


 Preliminary studies by Cojaal revealed that moving the Highway from its initial route through the coastal mountains to   the edge of the coastal plains northward would eliminate tunnels as well as high bridges across ravines. These cost savings, however, needed to be weighed against impacting towns  and villages along the alternative routes and having to spend time devising, negotiating and implementing mitigations.


 In anticipation of this, Cojaal negotiated a special contract provision that compensated the contractor for  time and cost arising out of extended delays in obtaining approvals.


When Cojaal accepted this “price ceiling,” it essentially took it upon itself the challenge to choose

Highway routes and to develop subsequent design details  such that, barring force majeure and other exceptions, the Highway can be executed on time and project cost can come in below the price ceiling.





This Chapter summarizes  how  the Project  was initiated and managed at site, highlighting issues of time management as well as quality control.


The members of Cojaal recognized that key success factors in this regard are procurement and logistics (P/L) and design management (D/M).


 3.1 Organizational Setup


Project  organization  adopted  involves  seven  site offices,   called   “Camps,”each of  which is to construct a section of the Highway that varies in length from 12.7 km to 123 km. The Headquarters (H/Q) coordinates, controls and   integrates the activities  of  the Camps as shown  in  Figure  3.1. Each  Camp internally replicates the functions that H/Q has, such as Contract Administration  and Design Management.


 Design within the scope of Cojaal is outsourced to internationally recognizedm design firms. The design process is managed by staff dispatched from the members of Cojaal.


 3.2 Construction Execution


The Campsexecute construction of the assigned work scopes independently, based on work budgets and programs   that have been agreed upon at meetings presided by the H/Q.


 With the exception of Camp 7, each Camp  is operated by one member of Cojaal. For instance, Camps 2 and 4 are operated by Kajima Corporation


Figure 3.1 COJAALs Organization


alone. This setup gives each member company managerial autonomy, allows aggressive application of proprietary  technologies, and most importantly, provides  a strong incentive to achieve good results for  the  company,  contributing  to Cojaals overall success.


As Camp 7 was to commence last, it is operated by an  internal  joint  venture  where  the  members  of Cojaal can pull together their experiences from their own Camps and expedite work progress.


 3.3 Procurement and Logistics


Timely procurement of plant, equipment and major materials  is  a  prerequisite  to  on-schedule  work progress.


 3.3.1 Plant and Equipment Procurement


Since aggregates, cement concrete, and asphalt

mixtures shall  be  manufactured  by Cojaal, all necessary plant and relevant equipment were globally  procured  early on.     So were earthwork heavy equipment, passenger vehicles and other common equipment. In order to meet a demanding time-schedule, huge
volumes of cargo were rushed in the initial stage to the Port of Skikda, the closest and most convenient port of entry Table 3.1 exhibits a procurement schedule of such major plant and equipment which were purchase-ordered to vendors during the first seven months immediately after signing the contract. The countries of origin range from Japan, North America, Europe to South East Asia Table 3.1 Procurement Schedule of Major Plant & Equipment during the first Seven Months


The total volume of plant and equipment shipped to


Algeria    from    various     countries     amounts    to


110,000FT  during  this  first  seven  months,  out  of


230,000FT during 28 months until December 2008. The  value  of  the  first  seven-month  procurement exceeds 20 billion Yen, or 220 million USD.


The P/L mission has been carried out with diligent preparations and particular care taken to:


1)   Purchase-order to plural vendors a single item at a time to procure a large quantity in short period.

2)   Manage delivery of the items to warehouses at original ports to effectively utilize deck spaces of cargo vessels

3)   Call well in advance cargo vessels bound for or via Algeria, whose availability is quite limited.

4)   Make up complete shipping/import documents to facilitate customs clearance.

5)   Hire  effective  stevedores;  experienced  custom brokers;  and  inland  forwarders to  unload  and transport the cargo out of the port in a timely manner.

6)   Communicate well within the P/L team located both  at H/Q, the consignee; and at Tokyo back office, the shipper.


 3.3.2 Materials Procurement


An initial assumption that major materials such as aggregates, cement, reinforcing bars, concrete pipes, and bitumen, etc., can be procured easily from local sources turned out to be inaccurate:


 1)   Aggregate


The planned Highway route provided distant views on both sides of a number of mountains being actively  quarried,  which  led Cojaal  to attempt to purchase from the operators of those quarries  the necessary quality and quantity of aggregates. This effort  was  given  up  due  to disagreement over the conditions offered by the operators.


         The second and adopted option was for Cojaal to operate crushing plants at quarries and produce the aggregates. However, some quarries turned out   after   some  trials   to   produce  limestone aggregates that did not meet the specifications in terms of Los Angeles Abrasion Test results.


 The engineers from the Camps and the P/L team collaboratively explored satisfactory quarries, and the last necessary quarry was identified only recently. This time-consuming quarry hunting has resulted, in part, in the procurement of  a large  number  of  crushing  plants  as  shown  in Table 3.1.


 2)   Cement


Since Algerian mountains are constituted primarily of  limestone,  ERCE, a government agency, operates a number of cement factories. Although the quality is satisfactory, the quantity is not enough. As a result, cement lorries dispatched  from the Camps routinely wait for cement loading for several hours in a line at the factories. Consequently, a cement  lorry  can makeonly one  trip for cement transportation a day, leading to less  stock in  silos than was planned.


This situation aggravates in summer time when production drops due to the Vacance,” similar to  what  happens  in  Western  Europe. Some busy Camps have  responded  by stockpiling cement  in  Ton  Bags”  in  well  conditioned warehouses two months before summer vacation starts.

3)   Reinforcing Bar


The specifications for the rebars are in accordance with the French standard, which is unfamiliar to non-European  suppliers. Thus, the number of foreign suppliers that Cojaal can use is limited.


It was fortunate that an international steelmaker operates a steel mill in Algeria, and that rebars using the French standard were available locally through their official distributors.


The problem was the handling of the rebars at the  distributors’ warehouses. Poor  inventory management  has  made  it  difficult  to identify rebar  specifications such  as strengths and diameters.

 Thus,  the  P/L  team  was  forced  to  procure specified rebars from reliable Italian suppliers at the beginning.

Similarly,  Cojaal  has  experienced  problems  with many other materials that were locally procured.


 3.4 Design Time Management

Design time management is critical to the overall management of  time for a design-build  project. When design  is  not  finalized  and  fixed  on  time, subsequent   activities   such   as   procurement   and construction  can  not  be  carried  out  according  to schedule. Benefits of fast track or phased

construction often sought in the design-build scheme are  thus predicated on successful time management of the design process.

3.4.1 Design Information Flow


Figure 3.1 also shows Cojaals design organization. H/Qs design management team and Camps’ design team collaborate with outside design firms.

The Employer also hires his own design consultants as Technical Advisor” and “The Engineer.” They are the counterpart of Cojaals design management team.


Figure 3.2 exhibits the flow of design information exchange among the design-related organizations in case of LEVELING and DEX. The LEVELING is the matter of Technical Advisor” and the DEX is of “The   Engineer”  in  the  Employers  organization. The design is finalized when the DEX is approved.

The  DEX  approval  procedure  is  summarized  in Figure  3.3. The  DEX  can  be  approved  in  a minimum of 15 days if the Engineer does not find in the submitted DEX draft any major deviations from the Employers requirements in the Contract


Figure 3.2 Flow Diagram of Design Information for



Figure 3.3 Flow Diagram of Approval Procedure for




3.4.2 Difficulties in Design Time Management

Cojaal has found it difficult to manage design time in this Project. Uncontrollable and/or   unexpected events  and  circumstances have affected the design process, in  more ways than Cojaal ever expected. Approvals of the designs presented to the Employer (the Engineer and Technical Advisor) were anything but timely or forthcoming.


The difficulties which Cojaal has faced include:

1)   Limited availability of original APSs & APDs,


2)   Sparsely located original bore-hole logs,


3)   Environmental restrictions unknown to the


Bidder (prospective Design/Builder),


4)   Technical Specifications    particular  to  this



5)   Unfamiliar standards   (the French standard) frequently referred to in the Specifications,

6)   Inconsistency time-to-time  in the Design requirements and preferences,

7)   Lack of  prompt  Employer  responses  to  the Contractors submission,


8)   Magnitude of the Project

9)   Design Firms located outside Algeria


10) Disagreements  with   the   international  design firms

11) Reconciling construction requirements with design requirements

12) Pursuit of cost effectiveness in the design phase  under the price ceiling

13) Scarcity of experienced in-house design mamagers

14) Ruling French language

3.4.3 Design/Build scheme  :  from the Contractors View

Textbook arguments for and against the D/B scheme typically look like the following:



1)  The Contractor can incorporate its innovative technologies and constructability in the design, leading to reductions in cost & time,

2)   Overall project time can be reduced to the extent that  “Fast Track” or “Phased Construction” is possible,

3)   “Checks  and  balancesdoes  not work well between the designer and the contractor because both functions are integrated in one entity,

4)   The Employer needs to take strong control of project expenditures so as not to allow the cost to exceed the budget, and so forth.The experiences by  Cojaal, however, suggest that benefits of design-build can vary greatly depending on the following circumstances:

1)   The   design/builder   proposing   to   utilize   its innovative technologies for time/cost reductions often meets with resistance from outside design firms  because the latter are afraid of liabilities that  may  arise  from  adopting such innovative technologies.

2)   Design time management is a complicated task, often  leading to delays in design progress.           In such cases, the benefits of fast track or phased construction are elusive.

3)   The Employer has the ultimate right to approve design   and   construction,   meaning   that   the Employers review and/or approval rights affect all activities of the design/builder. The degree to which  this  relationship  can  work  to  slow  or expedite project progress may exceed contractor expectations.




   Of the events that impacted on-site work progress since construction commenced, two things stand out: landslides and a shortage of aggregates.


 4.1 Landslides


Part of the Highway traverses an extended terrain characterized by limestone-marl formations.  Cojaal did not anticipate the degree to which partially-weathered marl in this area is susceptible to landslides. After excavation started on the tunnels in this section of the Highway, construction stalled in the  face of   extensive  landslides around tunnel entrances   and where  hillsides  were  cut  for  the project.


Mitigation measures included moving the location of tunnel  entrances, constructing embankments or driving long piles that can hold the weight of marly formations  on the slopes above, and installing drainage channels through the marl.


4.2 Shortage of Aggregates


Production  of  aggregates  suffered  not  only  from difficulty of finding suitable quarries but also from restricted  supplies of  explosives. The latter was due to strict controls on the distribution of explosives for  security reasons: regulations require that  any transportation of explosives  from  the  only  source available near the western section of the Highway to the  quarries be attended by armed official guards, and all explosives be used up while the guards are in attendance at the quarry.


This places severe constraints on the production of concrete  and  crashed  gravels  for  pavement,  and limits the amount of blasting for tunnel excavation. Cojaal  is  applying  for  a  special  permit  to  build explosives stockpiles. The location of such storage facilities is still being negotiated.


4.3 Construction Standards and Specifications


The Employer  has  adopted construction standards and  specifications (CCTP) that are conceived along the   French   standard. CCTP  not  only  requires testing methods and performance measures that are unfamiliar to Cojaal, but also imposes restrictions that   are  often  at  odds  with  local  conditions  in Algeria.


As a case in point, CCTP discourages the use of limestone aggregates in the surface course asphalt mixtures when in fact the only aggregates locally available in large enough quantities are of limestone. The issue is insufficient hardness of local limestone. As a result, a solution being proposed by Cojaal is to mix  blast   furnace slag or hard  sandstone with limestone aggregates to improve the abrasion/corrosion resistance.Cojaal continues  to  encounter  situations  where  it finds CCTP impractical or uneconomical, given local conditions. Cojaals approach has been to devise alternative means or methods that Cojaal deems to be  “equivalent,”  and  to  attempt  to  convince  the Engineer  to adopt them. Cojaal is assisted in this effort by a committee of experts formed in Tokyo that  regularly  convenes  and  advises  on  technical solutions.


 4.4 Labor Management


Cojaal found that the Employer often had issues with the  qualifications of subcontractors that Cojaal had chosen  to  bring in from foreign countries. It was also  time-consuming  to  obtain  visas  for  imported labor.


Supervising groups of labor that are positioned far apart along the Highway has proven  to be demanding  especially  when  the  distance  involved can be 50 km or more.  Workers who are rushed to move  between work locations using two-lane local highways  or  partially completed roads are prone to engage in unsafe driving practices, which have led to some fatal accidents.



The task of on-site labor management is often compounded   by   an   apparent   lack  of   sufficient supervisory capacity on the part of the Employer. On-site progress suffers and confusion ensues when the  Employer does not dispatch someone to either attend the testing or approve construction work that is ready for inspection.





Cojaal signed on the ¥5.4 billion contract for the Algeria East-West Highway with a full realization that  it  was crash  construction  program  on  an unprecedented scale. While it may not have been typical for a design/builder to commit to a fixed sum when the design was so incomplete, Cojaal regarded the design-build features   including  contractors discretionary right to alter the Highway routes as a lever  with  which  to  make  the  Project  work  as a business proposition. It was a judgment call based on much analysis at the time and strong commitments from its members.



Working with a foreign government Employer on a design-build project  based  on unfamiliar construction standards and specifications has so far been  more  than  challenging; yet  the  members  of Cojaal are bringing all their expertise and resources to bear on the Project in order to succeed.


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