New conditions and extended deadline for 50,000 brick- and -mortar houses in North and East
Specifications changed or added to keep construction costs down and to facilitate sourcing of material
The Government has extended the deadline to submit proposals for the construction of 50,000 brick- and- mortar houses for conflict-affected families in the North and East, and changed some of the specifications to make the units cheaper and easier to build.
The new conditions go some distance in quelling concerns that the estimated price of a brick- and- mortar house would be so high as to validate efforts in other quarters to erect imported, steel prefabricated houses across the north and east.
The deadline for submission of proposals is now November 27. It was earlier November 13. The Ministry of Nat iona l Integration and Reconciliat i o n , which is handling the project, introduced an addendum to its recent Request for Proposals ( RFP) that allows the use of cement sand blocks (hollow and solid) in addition to the burnt brick earlier demanded. This was after widespread representations that burnt brick could be difficult to find in areas where the houses are to be built. Several other specifications have been changed or added to keep construction costs down and to facilitate sourcing of material. The RFP initially insisted on river sand for all construction but this has now been modified - in view of, among other things, environmental concerns - to include washed sea sand or manufactured sand ( grinding sand) that is approved for quality.
There is also now more flexibility in the use of wood. The RFP earlier called for all doors, including those inside the house, to be of suitable seasoned timber. This has been changed to “front door and rear door should be suitable seasoned, treated timber”. Inner doors will be the responsibility of the recipient of the house while the toilet door can be local, ordinary timber.
The objective of the project is to build low-cost, durable housing, the addendum read. Tenders will have to be accompanied by financing arrangements on soft terms.
Civil society groups have waged a two- year campaign to compel the Government to introduce acceptable housing for the war-displaced people in the North and East. “Masonry houses are the time- tested model, technically sound and most suitable for living, cultural and climatic conditions of the North and East,” a recent statement by a housing collective said. “Thus, we are also pleased that the government has recognised and respected the preference of the people for masonry houses.”
It highlighted the importance of involving home owners in the construction, with input from community groups; of creating employment while boosting the local construction industry and economy of the North and East through the project; of “meaningful consultation” with beneficiaries; and of using environmentally appropriate options.
“Masonry houses are not just built of burnt clay bricks ( gadol/ chengkallu), but also of cement blocks, compressed stabilised earth blocks, etc,” the statement said. “The most cost- effective and environmentally friendly option for the area needs to be considered, eg. burnt clay bricks, are not the most cost effective in the North, accounting for a small percentage only.” This issue has now been solved via the addendum.
“The RFP provides very little space for community ownership and community participation in monitoring the construction, and seems instead to strongly favour a contractor driven approach,” the statement also said.
This concern has been handled through responses to questions raised at the pre- bid meeting. Interested parties have been told to submit a separate proposal outside the bid for consideration and “suitable policy decision”. Local employment is encouraged while the involvement of international staff with special expertise is deemed “acceptable”.
The project has been divided into packages, with each given a deadline of one year for completion. A successful bidder has to submit a performance bond equivalent to five percent of the initial contract price.
Masonry houses are not just built of burnt clay bricks (gadol/ chengkallu), but also of cement blocks, compressed stabilised earth blocks, etc,” the statement said. “The most cost-effective and environmentally friendly option for the area needs to be considered, eg. burnt clay bricks, are not the most cost effective in the North, accounting for a small percentage only.” This issue has now been solved via the addendum.