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Success or failure?


Tue Feb 24, 2015

by: Andre T Clarke

Synopsis: This dissertation was undertaken to research and unveil the efficacy behind the methods utilized in the construction of the Argyle international airport and its impact on the success or failure of the project on the nation as an entity. The subject of this particular research has developed from the author’s interest in project management and, more specifically, the methodologies employed by large-scale projects in Third World countries. Baccarini (1996) asserts that construction projects are habitually complex and in fact, may be considered the most complex undertaking in any industry. However, the construction industry has often exhibited inordinate difficulties in coping with the cumulative impediments of major construction projects. Therefore, an understanding of project complexity and how it might be managed is of significant importance. {{more}}In accordance with the aforementioned theory, this paper will review the methodologies employed by the International Airport Development Company Limited (IADC) in its quest to deliver The Argyle international airport in a Third World country, namely St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Findings: The Argyle international airport is a Government initiative currently being constructed by any means necessary and driven by the possibility of the potential of its legacy. The airport will eventually be completed; however, the project is being built well beyond the parameters of any traditionally proven and tested means, and as such, there is no guarantee that the financial consequences of its four-year overrun may be eradicated by its legacy.

Methodology: The author conducted both qualitative and quantitative research during the course of the study. One hundred questionnaires were disseminated and 74 were completed and subsequently analysed for the necessary data production. Members of the IADC, Parliament, and other key stakeholders were interviewed and provided a rich source of data which contributed to the findings of the report. However, only the results of the questionnaires will be included in this article (at the request of the members of the public who participated in the research). The report in its entirety will be published and become available during the latter part of 2015.

Question 1 – Over the past 20 years, the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has orchestrated a variety of projects designed to aid in the development of the country. State whether these past government projects may be deemed as successful using the following terms: yes/no/unsure.

The Bequia and Union Island Jet Ports:

Yes No Unsure

44.6% 17.6% 37.8%

The Construction of over 650 Low Income Homes:

Yes No Unsure

75.7 %8.1% 16.2%

The Construction of the Cruise Ship Terminal:

Yes No Unsure

75.7% 12.2% 12.2%

The Construction of the Central Market:

Yes No Unsure

36.5% 50% 13.5%

The Construction of the National Public Library:

Yes No Unsure

89.2% 0% 10.8%

These questions were posed so as to attain the public’s view of government initiated projects as an entity and in turn act as an indication of their expectations and tolerance, as stakeholders, for the current state of affairs of the Argyle international airport project. It is fair to assume, based on the data retrieved and analysed for this initial question, that it is an honest held belief by the public that the Government is generally successful in its attempts to deliver national projects (apart from the construction of the Central Market where the majority of the respondents believed this project to be a failure and the construction of the Bequia and Union Island jet ports where a substantial number of the respondents felt that they were unsure of its success).

An interesting factor, however, is the fact that these projects were of a much smaller scale and the project management approach would have inevitably been vastly diverse to that of the Argyle international airport project, where funding has been accumulated by the “Coalition of the Willing,” with an overall cost of hundreds of millions. However, the principle of the political affiliation remains the same. Therefore, having obtained a general understanding of the public’s view and attitude towards politically affiliated projects, the author then made more direct enquiries about the Argyle international airport, the motivation behind its construction, its development, and the public’s opinion on how it impacts on the country. The respondents were asked a series of closed questions and were required to respond using the pre-constructed Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree or Disagree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. These will be illustrated as SA, A, NAOD, D and SD.

2. The construction of the Argyle International Airport is necessary for the development of our country.


3. The Construction of the Argyle International Airport will result in an improved standard of living for Vincentians.


4. The construction of the Argyle International Airport is a political endeavour to secure votes.


5. The initial prediction of the completion date could never have worked.


6. If the project was constructed without any political affiliation chances are that it would have been already completed.


7. It is common for projects initiated through politics in St Vincent to be late in its delivery.


8. This has nothing to do with politics.


9. The project is late simply because of unforeseen circumstances.


10. The airport will be fully operational by the newly announced estimate of 2015.


11. The construction of the international airport will have a positive effect on the development of SVG.


In an attempt to link the responses from the questionnaires, the author devised a final component of four open-ended questions to permit the participants to elaborate on their replies and ask similar questions in a strategic manner so as to establish trends and provenance. The following paragraphs illustrate the four questions and the most common responses.

1. Why do you think the completion of the airport has been delayed for such a long period?

The responses from the participants varied from misuse of funds, lack of funds and the reliability of equipment and skilled employees, to politics, poor planning, poor project management, heavy rainfall, unforeseen circumstances, ‘typical Vincentian procrastination’ and a lack of cooperation between the two political parties, whereby the project seems to be interpreted as a “Political Party Project” instead of a national one. However, the most common responses for this particular question were lack of funds and poor planning.

2. What steps could have been taken to ensure a timely completion of this project?

The replies from the volunteers varied significantly less for this particular question. Although it was established that there were levels of variety elucidated within the partakers’ responses for example, lack of research and use of alternate sites, the majority of the public participants were of the opinion that adequate funding should have been secured prior to the commencement of the construction of the airport.

3. Are you satisfied with the progress of the airport (please elaborate)?

Although it was a request for the respondents to elaborate on their replies, this question proved far easier to measure, as despite the individual explanations to support each partaker’s response, the transparency of the answers were easily established as most participants would commence the response with a yes, no, or not sure, before justifying their stance on the matter. The majority of the respondents, 50 per cent to be precise, were unsatisfied with the progress of the project, 37.8 per cent were satisfied with the developments and 12.2 per cent were unsure of how they felt about its progress.

4. Any relevant comments?

A substantial 62.2 per cent of the respondents did not reply to the “any relevant comments” (the last question). The author has been self-critical of this factor and questions whether the form was too lengthy in its design and, as a result, tested the patience of the respondents. However, there were also some useful comments made by the outstanding 37.8 per cent partakers.

The author observed that within this element of the questionnaire the mood of the individuals who decided to respond seemed to be one of frustration and therefore the question was seemingly mostly used as an opportunity to complain about various concerns which were often previously mentioned in the preceding three open-ended questions.

A detailed analysis of the questionnaires will be available upon publication of the entire report. The author would like to thank all the members of the public who took time out of their busy schedules to participate in this research.