TOKYO (Nikkei)–The government will tap general contractors and other private-sector companies to handle the planning of earthquake rebuilding projects from beginning to end, a move designed to ease the pressing burden on localities and speed up reconstruction.
Public works projects in Japan typically keep the surveying and planning process separate from the actual construction, with city, town and village governments contracting out each step along the way. Local governments in the areas hardest hit by the March 2011 quake continue to scramble to address shortages in personnel necessary for reconstruction planning.
The Reconstruction Agency and the Ministry of Land and Infrastructure seek to implement construction management practices — which are commonplace for public works projects in the U.S. and the U.K. — to streamline the process. Reconstruction Minister Tatsuo Hirano and Land and Infrastructure Minister Yuichiro Hata will announce the rollout of the new scheme after a cabinet meeting Friday.
Under the arrangement, a private-sector company is assigned to oversee projects from the design stage through construction. It will place construction orders, set up contracts and oversee quality management and other processes on behalf of localities. This will enable projects to enter construction as soon as designs are drawn up, making it faster for rebuilding to move forward.
The overseeing firm will hire construction companies and consultants for each segment of a project, such as repairing roads and rezoning communities. The government anticipates cost savings resulting from innovations and ideas offered by the private-sector construction managers.
The city of Higashi Matsushima and town of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture will be the first to adopt construction management processes starting next month.
Higashi Matsushima asked the central government and others for the dispatch of 64 specialists in civil engineering and other technical fields. But so far, only 45 have been assigned to arrive through the end of July.
(The Nikkei, June 15 morning edition)