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The importance of Infrastructure Projects

John Constance MSc in Project Management, University of Liverpool Introduction


The importance of infrastructure to society cannot be overemphasized as the entire civil engineering system of cities; towns and even villages are made up of the built environment of infrastructure, such as hospitals, corrections, education and health facilities, and airports, roads, railroads, and harbours, energy utilities, mines, offshore facilities, and pipelines (Goodman, A. & Hastak, M. 2006). Infrastructure projects is so important that without it societies will have no established goals and objectives, or properly identify and analyse their problems, their development and management opportunities, or find solutions, formulate alternatives and priorities and develop tangible decisions to design, plan, construct, operate and manage their built environment and improve the lives of people and society at large.

Infrastructure projects and the development of society


Infrastructure sustains economic development, whether in conflict situation or in a developing society. A society without projects that involves infrastructure will become inadequate and inefficient and will be prevented the realization of a full growth economy no matter what progress is going on other fronts.

Examples of this argument


The country Liberia, a highly indebted and poor country, went through 14 years of civil war and many years of government mismanagement, which destroyed the country's economy, particularly its infrastructure. Before the conflict, infrastructure projects for roads and bridges were the core job employment and economic growth activity and services. During the conflict, warring factions damaged, destroyed and vandalized roads and bridges. However, they sustained their roads and bridge projects, aware of the fact that if this activity were to stop their tactics or movement of goods, services and supplies would simply end (Liberia Economy, 2012). Another infrastructure is the countrys electricity grid, also vandalized during the conflict, but kept alive at the minimum by the United Nations and its foreign assistance partners owing to the fact that they too needed to survive their quality of life through the supply of electricity. Today electricity is an ongoing infrastructure project activity that continues to be supported by the government, foreign partners and the private sector. Today, roads and bridges and electricity are essential infrastructure projects activities ongoing based on the demand by the people, the government and foreign partners.

Benefits and challenges of infrastructure projects


Benefits:

It brings together all stakeholders to work together for one integrated goal It drives long-term economic growth, and competition amongst businesses and industry and their goods and services (HM Treasury, National Infrastructure Plan 2011, 2011) Infrastructure project tackles citizens demand for basic services in a costeffective and ecologically sustainable manner. It promotes holistic thinking, process orientation, cost tracing, and effective uncertainty management (Santander & Sanchez-Silva, 2007) It provides housing, education, health, civic buildings, roads, water, sewerage, harbours, and other industrial and commercial and small and medium buildings

Challenges: Managing the many stakeholders and their diverse expectations (Howes, R. & Robinson, H. 2005) Managing the change required to move traditional engineering practices to a new paradigm course of action Balancing infrastructure projects between rural regions and urban areas Interacting society and the environment with infrastructure projects Involving finance and management approaches in infrastructure projects Securing public private partnership in financing infrastructure projects

Conclusion
The importance of infrastructure project remains the core for sustained economic development. As shown from the Liberian context, infrastructure projects play a key role in the quality of life whether before, during and after conflicts. The benefits generate economic and social growth. The challenge is to make infrastructure assets meet the needs of the whole population, resolve gender issues, promote research and development, large-scale engineering, critical infrastructure, rural/urban balance and stakeholders expectation requirements management.
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References
Goodman, A. & Hastak, M (2006) Infrastructure planning handbook: planning, engineering, and economics. New York: ASCE Press. Howes, R. & Robinson, H. (2005). Infrastructure for the built environment: global procurement strategies. Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann HM Treasury, National Infrastructure Plan 2011(2011) The importance of Infrastructure for the northeast [Online] Available from:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/national_infrastructure_plan2011.htm Liberia Economy (2012) CIA WORLD FACTBOOK AND OTHER SOURCES [Online] Available from: http://www.theodora.com/wfbcurrent/liberia/liberia_economy.html Santander, C. & Sanchez-Silva, M. (2007) Design and maintenance programme optimization for large infrastructure systems, Structure and Infrastructure Engineering, 4 (4), pp. 297-309.