The HK$76 million Fuk Man Road nullah improvement project was designed to improve the local environment of Sai Kung town, known to many as the back garden of Hong Kong. It involved decking over an existing 180m long 12m wide open nullah, constructing a 4000m2 urban park over the top and upgrading an adjacent roundabout. The marine-themed park includes water-drop-shaped seating, a 30m long play ship and an 8m long brass and stainless steel dragon-boat sculpture weighing 3t.
Pilot Project for Government
In 2001, the Hong Kong governments construction industry review committee recommended a wider adoption of partnering and the integration of a partnering approach in contractual relationships, with the aim of avoiding disputes and achieving better project delivery. In response the government's Development Bureau decided to try out non-contractual partnering in public works projects. In 2006, the Development Bureau chose to trial the NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contract as a form of contract embracing the partnering spirit. The Fuk Man Road project was selected for the first NEC pilot project and the contract was awarded in 2009.
Partnering Workshop and Training
According to Senior Engineer Anthony Tsang, the project team adopted a number of measures to make NEC work. First, a partnering workshop and NEC practical training sessions were arranged for the Drainage Services Department, the consultants and the contractor at the beginning of the contract.
He said these were designed to bring about a change in mindset, from a traditional adversarial to a partnering approach, and to ensure a common understanding of the NEC contract conditions.
Secondly, the Drainage Services Department engaged an NEC adviser to guide the project team throughout the project to work with a partnering spirit and to comply with the contract requirements.
Co-Location of Project Team
A common office was adopted for the project so that the project manager, the supervisor (the consultants) and the contractor could sit side by side to facilitate more effective daily communications. "This was an unusual arrangement for government contracts in Hong Kong,' says Tsang.
Throughout the project, regular meetings among senior management of the three parties were held to monitor performance and jointly solve problems as they arose. "With such good relationship established, the project team arranged joint functions, such as public relations events, a joint charity team and even a dragon boat race team."
Benefits of NEC3
- Fostered the creation of a project team with a partnering spirit and collaborative working culture.
- Resulted in high job satisfaction of staff working on the project, which differed quite significantly to other government contracts in terms of working culture.
- Early warnings and pain / gain share promoted joint and prompt problem solving.
- Significant cost and time savings were achieved: the project was completed six months ahead of its 39 month programme and 5% below final target cost.