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Dynamic Research Journals (DRJ)

Journal of Economics and Finance (DRJ-JEF)


Volume 2 ~ Issue 1 (January, 2017) pp: 12-28
www.dynamicresearchjournals.org

Towards Factors Affecting Delays in Construction Projects: A


Case of Zimbabwe
1
Thabani Nyoni and 2Wellington G. Bonga
1 Corresponding Author:T Nyoni - nyonithabani35@gmail.com

Received 20 January, 2017; Accepted 25 January, 2017; Published 31 January, 2017 The author(s) 2017. Published with
open access at www.dynamicresearchjournals.org

Abstract: -The problem of delays in the construction sector is a global phenomenon and the construction sector
in Zimbabwe is no exception. This research seeks to empirically investigate the factors affecting construction
delays in Zimbabwe. A questionnaire survey was used for data collection. The research employed heterogeneous
sampling to select target population and one-hundred and twenty (120) questionnaires were completed and
analyzed. Using a simple ordinal scale, based on a 5-point Likert Scale, professionals, contractors and
consultants expressed their views on the relative importance of forty-six (46) pre-selected factors on construction
project delays. Data was analyzed using the Relative Importance Index (RII). The results show that delay in
progress payment by owner, difficulties in financing the project and change orders are amongst the twenty-seven
(27) most important factors causing delay in construction projects in Zimbabwe. The study recommends attention
to be made to the identified delay factors, paying particular attention to the twenty-seven (27) most ranked factors.
Keywords: - Client Related Factors, Construction Projects, Delay, Equipment Related Factors, Owner Related
Factors, Relative Importance Index, Zimbabwe.
JEL Codes: C02, L11, L23, L25, L52, L74, L87, L91, M11, O31.

I. INTRODUCTION
Delays in construction projects are problems faced in the entire world (Bangash, 2016) and Zimbabwe
is not an exception. Construction delay can be defined as the time overrun either beyond the contract date or
beyond the date that the parties agreed upon for delivery (Assaf & Al-Hejji, 2006). In the same line of argument,
Awari et al (2016) defined delay as the time overrun & cost overrun either beyond completion date specified in a
contract or beyond the date that the parties agree upon for delivery of a project. According to Zack (2003) delay
is an act or event which extends required time to perform or complete work of the contract and manifests itself as
additional days of work. In the same line of argument, Mohamad (2010) agitates that delay is an act or event that
extends the time to complete or perform an act under the contract. Delay, as described by Aibinu & Jagboro (2002)
is a situation where the contractor and the project owner jointly or severally contribute to the non-completion of
the project within agreed contract period. Alkhathani (2004) states that delay can be defined as extra time required
to finish a given construction project beyond its original planned duration, whether compensated for or not.
However, for the purposes of this research, the study adopts the definition of delay given by Assaf & Al-Hejji
(2006).
Delay in projects is counted as a common problem in construction projects (Sullivan & Harris, 1986).
Delay apparently means loss of income according to and for the owner or client. In case of contractor, delay
implies higher costs due to longer work time, labour cost increase and higher fabrication costs. While on-time
completion of construction project is a signal of project efficiency and success as argued by Mansfield et al (1994),
Anees & Sabarinathan (2016) and Al Hammadi & Nawab (2016), there are many unpredictable factors resulting
from various sources affecting construction projects.
Although there is no consensus on the factors affecting construction delay, it is generally understood that
construction delay is the most critical problem causing failure to deliver the project in time, within a stipulated
budget constraint, and expected quality. In Zimbabwe, just like in any developing country, the construction sector
is a key barometer of economic performance; therefore it is vital to take control of the factors affecting
construction project delay.

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Overview of the Economy and the Construction Industry of Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe, once touted as the Jewel of Africa at Independence in 1980, has over the years acquired a
reputation as the sick man of the Southern Africa region, with disastrous economic policies, political instability
and a peculiar inability to get itself out of often self-inflicted difficulties (Bayai & Nyangara, 2013). Over the past
years, the economic environment in Zimbabwe has faced a myriad of challenges following the inception of the
multicurrency economy (dollarization) in 2009 (Gondo et al, 2016). Zimbabwes economy is contracting, with
critics blaming policy inconsistency and toxic prescriptions such as the Economic Empowerment policy
compelling foreign investors to cede at least 51% shareholding to locals (Ndebele, 2016). Financial and liquidity
crises have characterized the Zimbabwean economy for the past five years as companies find it difficult to recover
from the decade long hyperinflationary economic environment that forced the government to demonetize the local
Zimbabwean dollar and adopted a wide range of foreign currencies chief amongst them being the United States
dollar (Gondo et al, 2016). Zimbabwes economy is regressing due to stagnation, low productivity and deflation
(Ndebele, 2016). The construction industry in Zimbabwe has not been spared by the fragile economic environment
prevalent in Zimbabwe.
There is a French dictum which says: When the construction industry prospers everything prospers.
This dictum is arguably relevant in the Zimbabwean scenario in the sense that the construction industry in
Zimbabwe has a lot of significance to the achievement of national socio-economic development goals enshrined
in Zimbabwes current (October 2013-December 2018) economic blue-print, ZimAsset (Zimbabwe Agenda for
Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation) and these include the construction of housing, schools, hospitals,
roads, power systems, irrigation and agriculture systems, urban and rural water supply and sanitation systems as
well as maintenance and repair of existing infrastructure. It is indisputably true, as argued by Khan et al (2014),
that the construction sector is positively related to success of any economy. Actually, Attar et al (2012) noted that
construction is a key sector of the national economy for all countries around the world, as traditionally it takes up
a big portion in the nations total employment and its significant contribution to a nations revenue as a whole.
In the 1990s, construction as an industry employed about 100 000 people; in 2011, only 30 000 workers
had jobs in this industry, indicating a decline of about 60% in employment capacity (Zimbabwean Independent,
2011). In Zimbabwe, the construction industry has the potential to account for at least 20% of the countrys annual
GDP (Bulawayo24News, 2011; World Bank, 2012). According to ZimStat (2014), the construction industry
contributed approximately 3% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the year 2014. ZimAsset growth projections
show that the construction sector is expected to grow as high as 15% (of GDP) by 2018. Zimbabwe, as noted by
the Zimbabwean Independent (2011), would require approximately $15 billion for infrastructure development
between 2011 and 2016. The construction industry is an important sector of the Zimbabwean economy as already
emphasized by Chigara & Moyo (2014) and Nyoni & Bonga (2016). Through its backward and forward linkages,
the construction industry provides means of production for other industries or commodities to be consumed. Khan
et al (2014), notes that the construction sector plays a significant role in producing wealth and providing a better
quality of life to the nation that is essential for development of the nation. However, the construction sectors
success depends on meeting certain objectives within stipulated time and budget constraints. This can only happen
if construction projects are executed in time, without delay.

Knowledge gap
According to Assaf & Hazmi (2006), construction delays play a key role in in any project success. Thus,
according to Al-Khali & Al-Ghafly (1999), investigation is required into the problem of delays in order to better
manage delay situations and mitigate the consequences of such delay. This study apparently fills a gap in
knowledge of factors affecting delay of construction projects in Zimbabwe. Understanding of such factors may
help construction project managers and policy makers to find out the main causes and their significance, in order
to not only minimize and avoid the impact of delays in construction projects; but also develop new intervention
strategies aimed at curbing delays and improving construction business performance in terms of sustainability,
productivity, value addition to clients, profitability and competitiveness. It is envisioned that the result of the study
will also assist construction firms to reduce the high incidence of delays in the completion of projects and thereby
increase efficiency in the use of resources.

Purpose of the study


The time required to complete construction projects is often more than specified time in Contract (Al
Hammadi & Nawab, 2016). It is very rare to see that a construction project is completed on time (Baldwin &
Manthel, 1971; Arditi et al, 1985; Assaf et al, 1995; Vidogah & Ndekugri, 1997; Shashid et al, 2015). In
Zimbabwe, delays are one of the biggest problems in construction firms. Delays have an adverse impact on project
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Towards Factors Affecting Delays in Construction Projects: A Case of Zimbabwe

success in terms of time, cost, quality and safety (Association of Project Managers, 2006; Arditi &
Pattanakitchamroon, 2006). The effects of construction delays, however, are not confined to construction
companies, but can influence the overall economy of a developing country like Zimbabwe, where the construction
industry is a driver of economic growth as argued by Nyoni & Bonga (2016). The most serious consequence of
construction delay is that it sends bad signals to foreign investors thereby slowing down the national progress.
There is need to conduct a detailed empirical investigation and identification of delay factors and then select the
right actions to counter these delay factors within cost and maintain quality (Baldwin & Manthel, 1971; Arditi et
al, 1985; Ireland, 1986; Sullivan & Harris, 1986; Assaf et al, 1995; Vidogah & Ndekugri, 1997; Al-Momani,
2000). Against this background, this research serves the purpose of empirically investigating the factors affecting
construction delay in Zimbabwe.

Research questions
1) What are the factors affecting delays in construction sector?
2) What are the main factors affecting delay in the construction sector in Zimbabwe?
3) What is the impact of each pre-selected factor?
4) What is the relative rank in terms of importance of each pre-selected factor?

Research Framework
The study, in order to attain its objectives, has proposed a framework which links construction project
delay to various categories of the impacting factors as displayed in Figure 1 below:
Figure 1: Conceptual Framework

Source: Authors design

Organisation of the study


The study comprises of eight (8) sections and these are introduction, difficulties faced by the construction industry
in Zimbabwe, literature review, materials and methods, data presentation and interpretation, results and
discussion, recommendations and conclusion; in their chronological order

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II. DIFFICULTIES FACED BY THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY IN ZIMBABWE


Construction industries in all countries face many difficulties and challenges (Gale & Fellows, 1990;
Ofori, 1990). However, in developing countries (like Zimbabwe), these difficulties and challenges sit alongside
the general situation of socio-economic stress, chronic resource shortages and a general inability to deal with key
issues (Ofori, 2000). UNIDO (1993) argues that construction is one of the first industries to feel the effects of an
economic recession. In Zimbabwe the construction sector has been mostly affected during the period leading to
the 2008 hyperinflationary era. During that period, the construction sector was barely exposed to various financial
and business risks that made the development of the sector difficult.
The construction sector in Zimbabwe is characterized by perennial finance related problems such as high
cost of financing and difficulty in getting loans. Employers in the construction sector continue to lament over high
costs of production. This has been worsened by the current liquidity crisis coupled by both political uprising and
gross macroeconomic mismanagement. Mhlanga (2016) noted that the cash crises, high rental costs, and lack of
funding are threatening the survival of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country. Zimbabwe, as noted
by Mpofu (2016), is in the grip of a serious cash crunch, which has worsened gradually since December 2015 due
to dwindling exports and weakening regional currencies.
More so, construction activity in Zimbabwe draws mostly on unskilled labour. Chigara & Moyo (2014)
and Nyoni & Bonga (2016) found that lack of experienced labour is also a common problem in the construction
sector in Zimbabwe. Moavenzadeh (1978) posits that although labour is abundant in developing countries (like
Zimbabwe) there tends to be a shortage of skilled labour. Lack of highly skilled and trained workers in the
construction industry in Zimbabwe could be attributed to high capital flight experienced in the country owing to
economic-hardships. This has seen more workers crossing borders in search of greener pastures (Nyoni & Bonga,
2016).
Furthermore, the construction sector in Zimbabwe also faces difficulties in terms of fraudulent practices
and the inability to adopt best practices. In fact, Zimbabwe has suffered a lot due to corruption and nepotism in
all sectors of the economy. However, corruption and nepotism in the construction sector distort the competitive
nature of the industry as there will be no level ground with other innocent stakeholders. It is also unfortunate to
note that the construction industry in Zimbabwe is still a very dangerous industry in which to work. According to
ZimStats (2013), the Building and Construction industry experienced 119 332 incidences of injuries and 307
fatalities in 2013 alone.
Delay in construction projects is considered one of the most common problems causing a multitude
negative effect on the project and its participating parties (Awari et al, 2016). In the same line of argument, Divya
and Ramya (2015) agitate that construction delay is considered to be one of the most recurring problems in the
construction industry and it has an adverse effect on project success in terms of cost, time, quality and safety.
Delay is one of the most prominent and recurring difficulties faced in the construction sector in Zimbabwe.
Frequent and lengthy delay of construction projects has almost become a normal way of doing business in
Zimbabwe.
According to Awari et al (2016), companies would be able to avoid or minimize these delays if major
contributing factors were identified and planned for in a timely manner. Assessing delays, as argued by Al-Khali
& Al-Ghafly (1999), can provide insights for early planning to control these factors and improve project
performance.
In the same line of argument, Agu & Ibe (2016) agitate that delay factors are very crucial within a
construction project and it is vital that all stakeholders must have certain knowledge regarding this issue in order
for the project to be completed effectively and satisfactorily. Therefore, the study seeks to investigate the delay
factors affecting construction projects in Zimbabwe in order to help industry practitioners reach their intended
goals with greater efficiency.

III. LITERATURE REVIEW


Construction industry involves several complex issues all of which are invariably of great importance to
the parties of the construction contract. These issues concern entitlement to recover costs of delay or the necessity
to prolong the project with the consequential entitlement to recovery costs for adjustments to the contract
schedules. Questions arise as to the causes of delay and assigning of fault often evolves into disputes and litigation
(Bolton, 1990). Today, many stakeholders in construction are becoming increasingly concerned about the duration
of construction projects because of increasing interest rates, inflation and commercial pressures (Nkado, 1995)
and its potential to result in negative consequences such as disputes and claims leading to arbitration or litigation

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Related Studies
Baldwin et al (1971) examined the subject of delays and concluded that weather, labour supply and
subcontractors scheduling were the three major causes of delay. Assaf et al (1995) investigated delay in
construction and identified fifty-six (56) causes of delay that were grouped into nine (9) major categories. Their
study found that the finance category ranked highest whilst the environment category ranked lowest. Chan and
Kumaraswamy (1997) conducted a survey in Hong Kong construction projects to evaluate the relative importance
of 83 delay factors and found five main delay factors: poor risk management and supervision, unforeseen site
conditions, slow decision making, client-initiated variations and work variations.
Assaf and Al-Hejji (2006) conducted a survey on time performance of different types of construction
projects to determine the causes of delay and their importance to each of the project participants (owners,
contractors and consultants). The authors identified seventy-three (73) causes of delay and found out that only
twenty-six (26) of these factors were most important. Aigbavboa et al (2014) looked at construction project delay
in Zambia and found out that delay in payments and difficulties in financing projects by the contractor among
others were the major causes of construction delays.
Bangash (2016) analyzed the causes of delays in construction projects in Pakistan and found that efficient
communication between parties and management skills are critical items in contractor related factors. Anees and
Sabarinathan (2016) studied delay factors in the Indian building construction and concluded that the most
important factors were delay in payments, shortage of equipment and ineffective planning and scheduling. Zewdu
(2016) examined construction projects delays and their antidotes for the Ethiopian construction sector and
revealed low level application of techniques and software packages for project planning and time control.

IV. MATERIALS AND METHODS


The study used a qualitative approach and data was gathered using a questionnaire approach. The
questionnaire was built around factors affecting delay in construction projects drawn from previous studies and is
comprised of both structured and unstructured questions. To ensure validity of the questionnaire, a pilot study has
been undertaken. The pilot study was specifically done to check clarity and appropriateness of questions, check
the range of responses and finally check the efficiency with which the questionnaire will be completed by the
respondents. Hand delivery and emailing of questions to various stakeholders in the construction industry was
done to aid the study in answering its research questions. The target population of 120 respondents was selected
using heterogeneous sampling.

Data Analysis Approach


The Relative Importance Index (RII) was used herein to determine respondents perceptions of the
relative importance of the pre-selected delay factors. The RII index was computed based on Nyoni & Bonga
(2016) approach;

Where n1, n2, n3, n4, and n5 are the number of respondents who selected: (1) very weak, (2) weak, (3)
fair, (4) strong and (5) very strong. The RII technique aids in finding the contribution a particular variable makes
to the prediction of a criterion variable both by itself and in combination with other predictor variables (Johnson
& Breton, 2004), thus making it suitable for this research.

Questionnaire Discussion
The design philosophy of the questionnaire was based on the fact that the questions had to be simple,
clear and understandable for the respondents and at the same time be easily interpreted by the researcher. Factors
affecting delay were derived from both empirical and theoretical literature reviewed. The questionnaire had three
parts that allowed the study to extract relevant and useful information to answer research questions. Section A had
46 pre-selected, closed-ended (structured) questions; these are the factors which were identified from literature
review and categorized into 12 groups namely Owner, Contractor, Consultant, Client, Labour, Design team,
Contract, Material, Contractual relations, Equipment, Project and External related. The questions in this section
were measured using a simple ordinal scale based on a 5-point Likert scale comprising of ratings from 1 to 5; 1
indicates the least impact while 5 indicates the greatest impact. The respondents were asked to tell the extent to
which a particular factor affected delay in their organization. Section B had four open-ended (un-structured)
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Towards Factors Affecting Delays in Construction Projects: A Case of Zimbabwe

questions which were designed in a special way so as to capture other factors or the so-called omitted variables,
the ones that were not identified by the researcher but still exist to affect delay. Section C had the demographics
of the respondents such as age, sex, education, work experience and profession, whose primary purpose was to
describe the respondents to effectively ensure reliability and strengthen research results.

Demographics
A total of 120 questionnaires were completed and analyzed. The respondents construction industry work
experience ranges from less than a year to up to more than fifteen years; while respondents education ranges from
O Level up to Postgraduate Level and their ages range from at least 21 up to more than 55 years. The respondents
were made up of 29 contractors (approximately 24.2%), 23 consultants (approximately 19.2%) and 68
professionals (approximately 56.7%). The demographics served the main purpose of strengthening the research
results; for example, responses differed according to the work experience and therefore the researcher had to
consider responses from experienced respondents as more reliable since they have seen it all. The demographics
of the respondents who took part in this study show that they had relevant technical experience to provide valid
assessments of the factors presented in the questionnaire.

V. DATA PRESENTATION AND INTERPRETATION


Table 1: Descriptive Statistics
Group of factors No. of No. of Mean Standard Minimum Maximum Range
factors factors with RII deviation RII RII [Max-Min]
RII > 50%
Owner related 6 6 69.2 9.6 59.3 79.9 20.6
Contractor related 6 2 45.2 18.3 19.8 74.7 54.9
Consultant related 5 3 44.2 18.4 17.1 61.5 44.4
Client related 2 2 69.1 2.3 67.4 70.7 3.4
Labour related 4 2 44.9 19.9 17.5 62.7 45.2
Design team related 7 3 38.5 23.6 10.1 70.4 60.3
Contract related 2 1 51.7 16.4 40.1 63.3 23.2
Material related 3 1 45.7 12.5 31.8 55.9 24.1
Contractual relations 3 3 55.3 3.1 51.7 57.4 5.7
related
Equipment related 2 2 68.8 7.5 63.5 74.1 10.6
Project related 3 2 53.0 18.6 32.8 69.4 36.6
External related 3 0 34.8 20.4 11.2 47.1 35.9
Overall - - 51.7 14.2 35.2 65.6 30.4
Table 1 above shows various statistic measures of the Relative Importance Index. The Design team
related category which consisted of 7 factors, had the highest number of factors whilst the Client related, Contract
related and Equipment related categories, had only 2 factors each; being the least number of factors per category.
The Owner related and the Contractor related categories had 6 factors each whilst the Material related, Contractual
relations related, Project related and External related categories had 3 factors each. The Consultant related
category had 5 factors whilst the Labour related category had 4 factors. In the Owner related group, the number
of factors with RII 50% were 6, while the Consultant related, Design team related and Contractual relations
related groups each had 3 factors that had RII 50%. The Contractor related, Client related, Labour related,
Equipment related and Project related categories, each had 2 factors that scored above 50%. The Contract related
and Materials related groups, each had only 1 factor that scored above 50%. All the factors that fell under the
External related category scored below 50%.
Based on mean RII, Owner related factors; whose average RII is 69.2%, are the most critical factors
amongst the 12 categories, followed by Client related and Equipment related factors with average RIIs of 69.1%
and 68.8% respectively. The External related factors have an average RII of 34.8% showing that they are the least
important in terms of their overall effect on delay in construction projects in Zimbabwe. The overall mean RII is
approximately 52%, which implies that all the factors are important; regardless of individual factor rankings.
Hence all the factors ought to be addressed, although greater effort should be directed to the most ranked factors.
The standard deviation satisfies the basic criterion for a measure of variation. The more variation there is in the
observed values, the larger the standard deviation in question. The table above shows that there is more variation
amongst the External related factors whose standard deviation is 20.4% while Client related factors exhibit the
least variation, with standard deviation of 2.3%. The table above also shows the minimum RII, maximum RII and

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range of RII (a measure of spread) for each group of factors. Overall variability is shown by standard deviation of
approximately 14% and a RII range of approximately 30%.
The distribution of the factors affecting delay in construction projects in Zimbabwe is shown below:
Figure 2: The 5-Number summary showing the distribution of the RII

Figure 2 above is a Box & Whisker Plot showing how the RII is distributed for the various pre-selected
factors affecting construction delays. It is also important to note that the overall mean RII is greater than 50%,
indicating that on average, all the ranked factors are generally important and should be equally addressed. The
minimum RII is 10.1% and the maximum RII is 79.9% as shown above. However, it follows that the factor that
scored the maximum RII (that is: delay in progress payment by owner) is the most critical one as ranked by the
respondents while the one that scored the minimum RII (that is; delay in producing design documents) bears
relatively lesser importance although it still exist to affect construction delays.
Q1 is 38.85, Q2 (the median) is 55.2 and Q3 is 62.85. Since [(Q3 Q2) (Q2 Q1)], i.e 7.65<16.35, it
implies that the distribution of the RII is negatively skewed.
Data check is done to check outliers. The results are shown in Table 2 below;
Table 2: Calculation of Outlier Boundaries
Formula Workings Statistics
Interquartile Range (IQR) Q3-Q1 62.85-38.85 24
Outlier (lower boundary) Q1-1.5*IQR 38.85-1.5*24 2.85
Outlier (upper boundary) Q3+1.5*IQR 62.85+1.5*24 98.85

Table 2 above any RII that lies below the lower boundary (2.85) and above the upper boundary (98.85) as
calculated is an outlier. Therefore, the research has found no outliers in the RII statistics, since the minimum is
10.1% and the maximum is 79.9% and both lie between the outlier boundaries. This implies that the research
results are all considered for policy conclusions as they show synonymous characteristics.

VI. RESULTS AND DISCUSION


The analysis of the results was based on the RII index of the identified factors. The RII indices identify
the relative importance attached to the factors by the respondents. The overall factors were classified under 12
categories as follows: Owner related (6), Contractor related (6), Consultant related (5), Client related (2), Labour
related (4), Design team related (7), Contract related (2), Material related (3), Contractual relations related (3),
Equipment related (2), Project related (3) and External related (3). However, 19 factors were of little concern to
the respondents and this indicates that such factors rarely affect delay in construction projects in Zimbabwe. The
RII indices for such factors fall below 50% (or 0.5) and these are delay in materials delivery, poor site
management, unforeseen ground conditions, weather conditions, insufficient data collection & survey before
design, inadequate labour supply, inadequate planning, mistakes & discrepancies in contract documents, rework
due to errors during construction, quality assurance/control, legal disputes between parties, late procurement of

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materials, mistakes & discrepancies in design documents, inadequate construction materials, personal conflicts
among workers, preparation & approval of drawings, misunderstanding of owners requirements by design
engineer, changes in government regulations and delay in producing design documents
Below is a discussion of the 27 most important factors affecting delay in construction projects in
Zimbabwe:

Owner related category


Table 3: RII ranking of owner related factors
Factors affecting delay RII Rank
Delay in progress payment by owner 79.9 1
Delay in revising and approving design documents by owner 77.3 2
Delay in approving shop drawings and sample materials 76.5 3
Suspension of work by owner 61.7 4
Unavailability of incentives for contractor for finishing ahead of schedule 60.6 5
Conflicts over joint ownership of project 59.3 6

Delay in progress payment by owner: This factor ranked 1st both in the Owner related category and in
the overall ranking, with an RII index of 79.9%. This indicates that delay in progress payment by owner is an
important determinant of delay in construction projects in Zimbabwe. The results are consistent with the findings
of Assaf etal (1995), Assaf and Al-Hejji (2006), Awari et al (2016) and Al-Hammadi and Nawab (2016).
Delay in revising & approving design documents by owner: This factor indicates that delay from
owner in revising and approving design documents can lead to the delay in project completion. This factor ranked
2nd both in the Owner related category and overall ranking, with an RII index of 77.3%. This is consistent with
the findings of Al-Hammadi and Nawab (2016).
Delay in approving shop drawings and sample materials: The results also show that this is an
important issue that leads to delay in completion of construction projects. This factor ranked 3rd in both the Owner
related and overall ranking, with an RII index of 76.5%. This is also similar to the findings of Al-Hammadi and
Nawab (2016).
Suspension of work by owner: In Zimbabwe, some construction projects have been suspended by
owners for various reasons including disputes and misunderstandings on both financial and contractual issues with
other stakeholders. This factor ranked 4th in the Owner related category and ranked 13th in the overall ranking,
with an RII index of 61.7%. The results are consistent with the findings of Al-Hammadi and Nawab (2016).
Unavailability of incentives for contractor for finishing ahead of schedule: This factor ranked 5th in
the Owner related category and ranked 15th in the overall ranking with an RII index of 60.6%. In Zimbabwe,
incentives for contractors for finishing ahead of schedule are rare thing to come by. However, it is important to
note that such incentives play a significant role in motivating contractors to work extra-hard.
Conflicts over joint ownership of project: This was also found to be an important factor that also
exists to affect delay. This factor ranked 6th in the Owner related category and ranked 16th in the overall ranking,
with an RII of 59.3%. Some construction projects in Zimbabwe are so large that they are usually run by both
players in the private and public sector, through the so-called Public-Private Partnerships. However, some
conflicts erupt over certain issues and this causes delay and total abandonment of projects in some extreme cases.

Contractor related category


Table 4: RII ranking of contractor related factors
Factors affecting delay RII Rank
Difficulties in financing the project 74.7 1
Poor qualifications of contractors technical staff 51.3 2
Poor site management 48.8 3
Inadequate planning 41.4 4
Rework due to errors during construction 35.1 5
Inadequate construction methods 19.8 6

Difficulties in financing the project: This factor ranked 1st in the Contractor related category and
ranked 4th in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 74.7%.This is consistent with the findings of Baldwin et al
(1971), Assaf et al (1995), Frimpong et al (2003), Aigbavboa et al (2014) and Al-Hammadi and Nawab (2016).
In Zimbabwe, most contractors are now facing problems in financing construction projects at their disposal. This
could be attributed to the current liquidity crisis and the general economic instability that is in the country.
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Poor qualifications of contractors technical staff: This research also found out that poor
qualifications of contractors technical staff is another important factor that leads to delay in construction projects
in Zimbabwe. This factor ranked 2nd in the Contractor related category and ranked 27th in the overall ranking, with
an RII index of 51.3%. The results are similar to the findings of Bangash (2016). The findings are acceptable
because Zimbabwe has witnessed large numbers of experts resorting to work and stay abroad due to economic
hardships in Zimbabwe. This, among other reasons, has left contractors with no option, but to make use of the
available technical staff, most of whom lack both the necessary professional qualifications and hands-on
experience.

Consultant related category


Table 5: RII ranking of consultant related factors
Factors affecting delay RII Rank
Waiting time for approval of tests and inspections 61.5 1
Inadequate experience of consultant 56.3 2
Poor contract management 52.6 3
Quality assurance/control 33.7 4
Preparation & approval of drawings 17.1 5

Waiting time for approval of tests and inspections: This factor ranked 1st in the Consultant related
category and ranked 14th in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 61.5%. The results are similar the findings
of Odeh and Battaineh (2002). Some projects in Zimbabwe have been delayed due to the long time taken by
consultants in approving tests and inspections.
Inadequate experience of consultant: Inexperienced consultants are a barrier to project-on-time
completion as supported by the findings of Anees and Sabarinathan (2016). This factor ranked 2nd in the
Consultant related category and ranked 20th in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 56.3%.
Poor contract management: This research also found that poor contract management is now becoming
a prominent problem in Zimbabwes construction sector. Poor contract management ranked 3rd in the Consultant
related category and ranked 25th in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 52.6%. This is consistent with the
findings of Odeh and Battaineh (2002) and Frimpong et al (2003).

Client related category


Table 6: RII ranking of client related factors
Factors affecting delay RII Rank
Finance and payment of completed work 70.7 1
Unrealistically imposed contract duration 67.4 2

Finance and payment of completed work: Delay in finance and payment of completed work
consequently leads to delay in the overall project as also found by Assaf et al (1995) and Odeh and Battaineh
(2002). This has been worsened by financial instability in the country, characterized by the current liquidity crisis.
Finance and payment of completed work ranked 1st in the Client category and ranked 6th in the overall ranking,
with an RII index of 70.7%.
Unrealistically imposed contract duration: This factor ranked 2nd in the Client related category and
ranked 9th in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 67.4%. The results indicate that some clients in the
construction sector have a tendency of imposing unrealistic contract durations. This is similar to the findings of
Odeh and Battaineh (2002) and Al-Hammadi and Nawab (2016).

Labour related category


Table 7: RII ranking of labour related factors
Factors affecting delay RII Rank
Lack of experienced workers 62.7 1
Lack of well-educated and trained workers 55.8 2
Inadequate labour supply 43.4 3
Personal conflicts among workers 17.5 4

Lack of experienced workers: Lack of experienced labour has a negative impact on delay. Experience
is very important in the sense that it improves both the intellectual and physical abilities of work force which

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consequently saves both time and resources. This factor ranked 1st in the Labour related category and ranked 12th
in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 62.7%.
Lack of well-educated and trained workers: While labour supply (in general) is currently not a
problem in Zimbabwe, the results of this study show that well-educated and trained labour in construction trades
is becoming a problem that now needs to be addressed. Nyoni & Bonga (2016) note that, lack of highly skilled
and trained workers in the construction industry in Zimbabwe could be attributed to high capital flight experienced
in the country owing to economic-hardships. This factor ranked 2nd in the Labour related category and ranked 22nd
in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 55.8%.

Design team related category


Table 8: RII ranking of design-team related factors
Factors affecting delay RII Rank
Non-use of advanced modern engineering design software 70.4 1
Inadequate design team experience 55.6 2
Complexity of project design 54.8 3
Insufficient data collection and survey before design 43.7 4
Mistakes & discrepancies in design documents 21.2 5
Misunderstanding of owners requirements by design engineer 13.5 6
Delays in producing design documents 10.1 7

Non-use of advanced modern engineering design software: This factor ranked 1st in the Design team
related category and ranked 7th in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 70.4%. This result is supported by
Anees and Sabarinathan (2016). Most construction companies in Zimbabwe are not yet using advanced modern
engineering design softwares. However, such softwares improve efficiency despite the fact that they are expensive
to acquire.
Inadequate design team experience: his factor ranked 2nd in the Design team related category and
ranked 23rd in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 55.6%. Lack of experience has a negative influence on
both project duration and productivity. This result is consistent with the findings of Anees and Sabarinathan
(2016).
Complexity of project design: This is another factor that has also been found to exist and affect delay
as supported by the findings of Anees and Sabarinathan (2016). This factor ranked 3rd in the Design team related
category and ranked 24th in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 54.8%. Complexity of project design can be
a difficult issue, especially in large construction projects.

Contract related category


Table 9: RII ranking of contract related factors
Factors affecting delay RII Rank
Change orders 63.3 1
Mistakes and discrepancies in contract documents 40.1 2

Change orders: While changes suggested by both the owner and client before the project
implementation may not have significant impact on project completion, however during the project;
implementation-changes in the requirements by the owner or client significantly influence contract especially in
terms of completion of project. Normally such change orders result in extended contract durations. This factor
ranked 1st in the Contract category and ranked 11th in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 63.3%. The results
are similar to the findings of Al-Hammadi and Nawab (2016).

Material related category


Table 10: RII ranking of material related factors
Factors affecting delay RII Rank
Shortage of materials 55.9 1
Delay in materials delivery 49.4 2
Late procurement of materials 31.8 3

Shortage of materials: The results show that this is an important factor that affects delay in construction
projects in Zimbabwe. This factor ranked 1st in the Materials related category and ranked 21st in the overall ranking

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with an RII index of 55.9%. This is supported by Odeh and Battaineh (2002), Awari et al (2016) and Anees and
Sabarinathan (2016). The results are acceptable because in Zimbabwe some construction projects nearly come to
a halt due to material shortages. This has been made worse due to the current liquidity crisis that has made it
difficult for contractors to procure materials in time and in right quantities. On the other hand, materials suppliers
are reluctant to supply materials on credit because contractors will normally pay suppliers only when they
themselves are paid.

Contractual relations related category


Table 11: RII ranking of contractual relations related factors
Factors affecting delay RII Rank
Poor professional management 57.4 1
Legal disputes 56.7 2
Insufficient communication between parties 51.7 3

Poor professional management: This factor ranked 1st in the Contractual relations category and ranked
17th in the overall ranking with an RII index of 57.4%. In this category, this is the most important factor in the
delay of construction projects. It is, however, important to note that professionalism is an integral part of
construction management and has a significant bearing on project duration.
Legal disputes: The results show that this is an important factor that affects delay in construction
projects in Zimbabwe. This factor ranked 2nd in the Contractual relations category and ranked 19th in the overall
ranking with an RII index of 56.7%. Conditions incorporated in construction contracts, not only, explain and
amplify the basic obligations of parties to the contract, but also, provide the administrative mechanisms for
ensuring that the correct procedures are followed. However, in Zimbabwe, some parties are not very familiar with
the conditions of contract resulting in breaches causing delay. In Zimbabwe, the approval and execution of
construction projects, especially those that are government-funded, is characterized by both complicated
regulations and bureaucracy. Owners, contractors and consultants have to follow certain enacted procedures to
ensure successful completion of the projects.

Insufficient communication between parties: In construction sector, just like in any other sector;
communication is very important. This factor ranked 3rd in the Contractual relations category and ranked 26th in
the overall ranking. In Zimbabwe, contractors usually complain over insufficient communication especially from
consultants with regards to instructions, as a result delay becomes inevitable in their projects. The results are
consistent with the findings of Chan and Kumaraswamy (1997), Odeh and Battaineh (2002), Al-Hammadi and
Nawab (2016) and Bangash (2016).

Equipment related category


Table 12: RII ranking of equipment related factors
Factors affecting delay RII Rank
Lack of technologically advanced equipment 74.1 1
Lack of adequate equipment 63.5 2

Lack of technologically advanced equipment: Nyoni & Bonga (2016) noted that most construction
companies in Zimbabwe use old and outdated machinery. This factor ranked 1st in the Equipment related category
and ranked 5th in the overall ranking, with an RII index of 74.1%. The results are supported by Anees and
Sabarinathan (2016). While construction in Zimbabwe is still highly labour intensive, it is important to note that
technologically advanced equipments not only save time but also improve productivity.

Lack of adequate equipment: The results show that this is an important factor that affects delay in
construction projects in Zimbabwe. This factor ranked 2nd in the Equipment category and ranked 10th in the overall
ranking, with an RII of 63.5%. This is consistent with the findings of Odeh and Battaineh (2002), Anees and
Sabarinathan (2016) and Awari et al (2016). Without adequate equipment construction delay is inevitable. Most
contractors in Zimbabwe do not own equipment themselves, where equipment is required; contractors normally
hire. However, this makes the whole process even more difficult because sometimes such equipment could be in
use somewhere at the time when it is needed. In such cases, contractors are forced to wait for such equipment
until it is available for hiring.

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Project related category


Table 13: RII ranking of project related factors
Factors affecting delay RII Rank
Original contract is too short 69.4 1
Type of project bidding and award (negotiation, lowest bidder) 56.9 2
Ineffective delay penalties 32.8 3

Original contract is too short: This factor ranked 1st in the Project related category and ranked 8th in
the overall ranking, with an RII index of 69.4%. It is important to note that while all the parties may want the
project to be finished quickly, the completion date should be specified objectively rather than subjectively. This
means that specified project duration ought to be realistic.
Type of project bidding and award (negotiation, lowest bidder): This factor ranked 2nd in the Project
related category and ranked 18th in overall ranking, with an RII index of 56.9%. This is consistent with the findings
of Assaf and Al-Hejji (2006). Traditionally, contractor selection has been based solely on the prices offered by
the bidders. However, in Zimbabwe; nowadays, when it comes to selecting a contractor, many owners do not
consider the price as the single selection criterion. This implies that contractor selection is no longer a
straightforward procedure performed by merely sorting the bids based on the offered price but rather a complicated
process where owners now also consider a combination of several factors such as price, reputation of the bidders,
history of previous projects, major construction quality indicators, prepared drawings, suggested construction
methods among other things. This is why, as argued by Zavadskas et al (2010) and Huang (2011), there rarely
exists a bidder that can dominate the rest of the competitors in all of the relevant criteria. This implies that owners
may occasionally fail to select the best contractor as the final winner of the bid. As a result, delay in construction
projects in Zimbabwe becomes literally inevitable.

Other factors that were also found to exist and affect delay as derived from un-structured questions:
Frequent equipment breakdowns: This another delay causing factor in construction projects in
Zimbabwe. The results are supported by Odeh and Battaineh (2006) and Anees and Sabarinathan (2016). Heavy
machinery like bulldozers and cranes have a very high probability of breaking down especially after years in
service. Most equipment used in the construction sector in Zimbabwe is very old and outdated. Some machinery
has turned out to be unreliable even after several repairs but contractors continue to use such machinery. This
increases incidences of break-downs during construction, thereby causing delay.
Low productivity and efficiency of capital (plant and equipment): Since most machinery that is
being used in construction sector in Zimbabwe is very old and outdated, efficiency and productivity are always
compromised and this causes delay in project completion.
Low productivity of labour: This is another factor that has also been found to exist and affect delay in
construction projects in Zimbabwe. This result is similar to the findings of Anees and Sabarinathan (2016). Low
productivity of labour has a direct negative influence on project completion.
Injuries and fatalities during construction: This study also revealed that this is an important issue in
the construction sector in Zimbabwe. In construction projects in Zimbabwe, injuries are more common than
fatalities. However, all of these issues cause delay in project completion. The results are supported by the findings
of Anees and Sabarinathan (2016).
The overall ranking of the 46 pre-selected factors is summarized in the table below:
Table 14: Overall ranking of factors affecting delay
Factors affecting delay Category RII Within Overall
index Rank Rank
Delay in progress payment by owner Owner related 79.9 1 1
Delay in revising & approving design documents by owner Owner related 77.3 2 2
Delay in approving shop drawings & sample materials Owner related 76.5 3 3
Difficulties in financing the project Contractor related 74.7 1 4
Lack of technologically advanced equipment Equipment related 74.1 1 5
Finance & payment of completed work Client related 70.7 1 6
Non-use of advanced modern engineering design software Design team related 70.4 1 7
Original contract is too short Project related 69.4 1 8
Unrealistically imposed contract duration Client related 67.4 2 9
Lack of adequate equipment Equipment related 63.5 2 10
Change orders Contract related 63.3 1 11
Lack of experienced workers Labour related 62.7 1 12
Suspension of work by owner Owner related 61.7 4 13
Waiting time for approval of tests and inspections Consultant related 61.5 1 14

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Unavailability of incentives for contractor for finishing ahead of Owner related 60.6 5 15
schedule
Conflicts over joint ownership of projects Owner related 59.3 6 16
Poor professional management Contractual relations related 57.4 1 17
Type of project bidding & award (negotiation, lowest bidder) Project related 56.9 2 18
Legal disputes Contractual relations related 56.7 2 19
Inadequate experience of consultant Consultant related 56.3 2 20
Shortage of materials Materials related 55.9 1 21
Lack of well-educated & trained workers Labour related 55.8 2 22
Inadequate design team experience Design team related 55.6 2 23
Complexity of project design Design team related 54.8 3 24
Poor contract management Consultant related 52.6 3 25
Insufficient communication between parties Contractual relations related 51.7 3 26
Poor qualifications of contractors technical staff Contractor related 51.3 2 27
Delay in materials delivery Materials related 49.4 2 28
Poor site management Contractor related 48.8 3 29
Unforeseen ground conditions External related 47.1 1 30
Weather conditions External related 46.1 2 31
Insufficient data collection & survey before design Design team related 43.7 4 32
Inadequate labour supply Labour related 43.4 3 33
Inadequate planning Contractor related 41.4 4 34
Mistakes & discrepancies in contract documents Contract related 40.1 2 35
Rework due to errors during construction Contractor related 35.1 5 36
Quality assurance/control Consultant related 33.7 4 37
Ineffective delay penalties Project related 32.8 3 38
Late procurement of materials Materials related 31.8 3 39
Mistakes & discrepancies in design documents Design team related 21.2 5 40
Inadequate construction materials Contractor related 19.8 6 41
Personal conflicts among workers Labour related 17.5 4 42
Preparation & approval of drawings Consultant related 17.1 5 43
Misunderstanding of owners requirements by design engineer Design team related 13.5 6 44
Changes in government regulations External related 11.2 3 45
Delay in producing design documents Design team related 10.1 7 46

VII. RECOMMENDATIONS
The research recommends the following:
1) Construction companies should take steps to entice and train youth in carpentry, masonry and other
trades. Incentives in form of allowances and Best Worker of the Year Awards should be provided to try
and retain experienced and well-trained workforce and at the same time create competition among
workers.
2) The flaws in the design documents should be timely addressed before or during implementation phases
to avoid mistakes and discrepancies in design documents. The approval of revised drawing, sample
materials or design documents should be timely undertaken as sometimes the owner may be too busy
with his or her other projects and may not be able to spare time for a specific project. The consultant
should focus on timely delivery of the design or engineering documents (approvals) as well as timely
inspections and should have close liaison with client and contractor for timely submission of the required
engineering documents to avoid delays in producing design documents. The client should be devoted
and sincere with his or her project for timely approval of the shop drawings and other documents sent to
him or her by the consultant or contractor.
3) Main contractors should avoid their tendency of subletting the contracts (to subcontractors who usually
happen to be incapable of completing construction projects in time), or otherwise technically sound,
financially strong subcontractor should be preferred. It is also recommended however, that government
should also provide affordable loan facilities to players (clients, contractors and owners) in the
construction sector to boost their capacity to meet their financial obligations.
4) The clients and owners should have a proper orientation with contractors, planners, designers and
consultant engineers to minimize the changes in the scope of project. Suspension of work, by owners or
any other party should be reasonable and justified; otherwise it will result in a mere wastage of time.
5) The client should conduct weekly meetings or monitoring visits with contractor and consultant on regular
basis to expedite the pace of work according to the planed schedule (targets) in order have proper liaison
with all stakeholders and also avoid disputes between the parties involved. All parties involved are

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Towards Factors Affecting Delays in Construction Projects: A Case of Zimbabwe

encouraged to engage proper and effective communication ways such as meetings and monitoring visits
to enhance proper coordination.
6) There is always a chance of conflict in construction projects hence a centralized decision making system
is recommendable for timely decision making.
7) If the contractor completes the project within time, they should be given an incentive in form of Cash
Award or guaranteed (repeated) Future Business Award. However, it is also recommended that clients
should desist from imposing unrealistic contract durations.
8) Contractors should rely on suitable, adequate, well repaired as well as modern, technologically advanced
equipment and softwares.
9) If the project is complex in nature it must be made sure that the designers selected for it are suitable for
it. The project management team and the owners must make sure that design contracts are awarded to
experienced design firms who are capable of completing the design of the project on their own. It should
also be made sure that consultants are well experienced and capable of tackling the project timeously.
10) An up-to-date schedule of material supply should be provided by the contractors and should contain the
time required to supply materials and the availability of the required materials in time to avoid both delay
of materials delivery and shortage of materials.
11) Finally, it is also recommended that construction companies should make sure they engage in exposure
monitoring and risk assessment as an occupational health and safety management strategy to avoid
injuries and fatalities at work. Construction companies should also make sure that occupational health
and safety programmes are an integral part of the general safety and health strategy. Consistent medical
surveillance is recommendable to ensure fitness and suitability of workers for certain construction jobs.

VIII. CONCLUSION
This study identifies the causes of delay in construction projects in Zimbabwe. A questionnaire survey
was used to collect data from the selected population of research. The study fills a gap in knowledge of factors
affecting delay in construction projects in Zimbabwe, which can be used by project managers and policy makers
in developing new intervention strategies aimed at curbing delays and improving construction business
performance in Zimbabwe. While all factors identified in this research should be addressed, greater effort should
be directed to the twenty-seven (27) most ranked factors.

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Appendix
QUESTIONNAIRE
Section A: Closed-ended questions
Please indicate to what extent each of the following factors affects delay at your organisation (by ticking in the box below 1/2/3/4/5).
Data Measurement Key: 1-Very Weak; 2-Weak; 3-Fair; 4-Strong; 5-Very Strong
Number Factors affecting delay 1 2 3 4 5
Project related
1 Original contract is too short
2 Legal disputes between various parties
3 Type of project bidding and award (negotiation, lowest bidder)
Owner related
4 Change orders by owner during construction
5 Delay in revising and approving design documents by owner
6 Delay in approving shop drawings and sample materials
7 Suspension of work by owner
8 Conflicts over joint ownership of project
9 Delay in progress payment by owner
Contractor related
10 Poor site management
11 Inadequate construction methods
12 Inadequate planning
13 Difficulties in financing the project
14 Rework due to errors during construction
15 Poor qualifications of contractors technical staff
Consultant related
16 Poor contract management
17 Preparation and approval of drawings
18 Quality assurance/control
19 Waiting time for approval of tests and inspections
20 Inadequate experience of consultant

Design team related


21 Mistakes and discrepancies in design documents
22 Delays in producing design documents
23 Complexity of project design
24 Insufficient data collection and survey before design
25 Misunderstanding of owners requirements by design engineer
26 Inadequate design team experience
27 Non-use of advanced modern engineering design software
Client related
28 Finance and payment of completed work
29 Unrealistically imposed contract duration
External related
30 Weather conditions
31 Changes in government regulations
32 Unforeseen ground conditions
Labour related
33 Lack of experienced workers
34 Lack of well-educated and trained workers
35 Personal conflicts among workers
36 Inadequate labour supply
Equipment related
37 Lack adequate equipment
38 Lack of technologically advanced equipment

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Towards Factors Affecting Delays in Construction Projects: A Case of Zimbabwe

Material related
39 Shortage of materials
40 Delay in materials delivery
41 Late procurement of materials
Contract related
42 Change orders
43 Mistakes and discrepancies in contract documents
Contractual relations related
44 Poor professional management
45 Legal disputes
46 Insufficient communication between parties

Section B: Open-ended questions


1) How would you define delay in construction industry? ............ .............. ............ ........... ......... ........ ....... ........ ...... ....... ........ ......
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2) What are the factors affecting delay at this construction company? ............... ............................. .................... .................... .......... .....
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3) Amongst the factors you mentioned above, which ones are the most important and why?.. .......... ........ ...... ........ ......... ....... ....... ....
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4) Given the responses you provided above, how can construction delay be minimized or
avoided?.....................................................................................................................................................................................................
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Section C: Demographics
Please tick the applicable
Sex:..................................Male/Female;
Age:...18-25/26-35/36-50/above 50
Education:.O Level/ A Level/ Diploma/ Degree/ Post Graduate
Work Experience:.......................student/0-5 years/6-10 years/10-15 years/above 15 years
You are allowed to tick more than one profession
Profession:
 Carpenter
 Builder/Bricklayer
 Earth-moving & Construction equipment Operator
 Electrician
 Engineer
 Painter
 Tiler
 Plumber
 Foreman/Supervisor
 Manager
 Other (specify)..

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