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Sustainability Works Foundation and Project of Expanding Lishan Road

Executive Summary

Sustainability Works Foundation finds itself in an awkward situation where it has to plan for and execute the project of expanding Lishan Road at a time when the promise of extra land space given by the government is no longer available. It has to choose one of the three options, all of which have various consequences. The most appropriate option will be to eliminate the current car lane to create the right of way for the new BRT project. The political class and the rich may oppose the idea of eliminating the car lane that they often use. However, the consultant has plans to convince them that as the population of the city continues to grow, this is the only way of fighting traffic congestion. The economy will continue to grow as people and goods will be moved from one part of the city to the other at a greater speed than is the case now. Everyone will benefit, including the rich business owners. The paper critically analyses how this project should be implemented using various tools and techniques.

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Introduction

The decision was taken by the Chinese government to make Jinan, the capital city of Shandong Province, the site for national games is expected to worsen the already bad traffic situation on Lishan Road. The economy of this city will be affected as the movement of goods and people is expected to be slower than it is now. Through consultations and embracing the best global practices, the mayor of this city realised that the best way of addressing this problem is to introduce Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) (Kogon et al., 2015). However, such an initiative would require the government to acquire additional land by compensating and relocating the owners of land adjacent to the road.

The Sustainability Works Foundation was appointed as the consultant responsible for guiding the process of implementing this project. The management of this consultant group has realised that the promised additional space for the road is no longer available (Beech and MacIntosh 2017). It has to define an appropriate way of undertaking the project using the current space but without compromising on the efficiency of the new system. Bleistein (2017) explains that the BRT system has specific requirements that have to be met for it to perform optimally. This paper looks at the most appropriate option of undertaking the project and tools and techniques that will be used in the implementation of the project under the chosen option.

Available Options

Option 1: Creating Right of Way for BRT by Narrowing the Stations

The first option may be the easiest way of overcoming the challenges that the BRT project faces in this city. It is a deliberate effort to implement the project by trying to meet the interest of all stakeholders. Political elites and police officers may not oppose the project because it does not affect their interests. Bikers and pedestrians will also have their lane. Trees will be protected, and it will not be necessary for Sustainability Works Foundation to seek additional support from the political class to achieve the set objectives. However, it comes at a great cost that makes it the least desirable of the three options. The BRT system has strict standard policies, which have to be met during the implementation process. One such requirement is the standard length of lanes and stations (Gardner 2018). The proposal to narrow stations would compromise the quality. It will go against international best practices (Mayer 2018). Moreover, it will slow the speed at which people get off the bus, defeating one of its main goals.

The compromised quality of the system will have a negative impact on the efficiency of the new BRT. Given that the concept is relatively new in China, political leaders are keen on observing its success to determine how they can implement it in other parts of the country. A substandard system, such as the one that will be obtained if this option is taken, may convince other mayors that BRT is not the right solution to the problem of traffic congestion. The blame can be placed on Sustainability Works Foundation as an entity that lacks the capacity to deliver what stakeholders expect. The negative name that this firm may earn by taking these compromises may have a profound impact on its sustainability in this country. As such, this is the least desirable option. When taking it, the consulting firm should outline the challenges faced in this project and the fact that the final product does not meet the expected quality.

Option 2: Create Way of Right by Removing Bike Lanes and Street Trees

The initial plan was to demolish structures on a road reserve. The inability of the government to meet this agreement means that the only way of creating the way of right is to eliminate the biker’s lane and street trees. It is necessary to look at the pros and cons of this strategy to determine its relevance (Huemann 2016). The strategy will ensure that the new BRT meets international standards. More buses will be introduced, and they will have the capacity to transport more people across the city. Using this strategy means the consultant will not have to pile pressure on the government to meet its promise of creating space by demolishing structures close to the road (Kersten et al., 2014). The government may be keen on avoiding the compensation that is due to those who have to be moved from the road reserves.

The consultant must be ready to deal with the numerous challenges associated with this strategy. As explained, bikers will be forced to use pedestrians’ lane, which creates a major security threat. These pedestrians will be forced to use the BRT system as the only cheapest alternative of movement. There is the threat of possible resistance by pedestrians and bikers to such a move. They can hold a demonstration against the planned project, a move that may have a serious negative impact on its implementation. Environmentalists opposed to the idea of eliminating street trees along Lishan Road can join the pedestrians and bikers in fighting this project. The negative image that will be created of the project is another major concern. Walking and cycling are the most environmentally friendly modes of transport. However, this project focuses on eliminating the two means of movement. The move can also be interpreted as a sign that the poor do not have a right in this country. Some of those who walk from home to work do so because of financial constraints. Targeting them may have a major backlash from human rights activists, who may interpret it as a direct and unfair attack on the poor. Despite these challenges, it is a better option than the first one.

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Option 3: Creating Right of Way by Eliminating the Current Car Lane

The third option may be the most challenging but most appropriate from the perspective of Sustainability Works Foundation as an ethical consultant that is keen on solving the problem of traffic congestion on Lishan Road. This option will ensure that the standards expected of a BRT are met fully without compromise. The stations will be of the right size, making it easy for the buses to drop off or pick up passengers with speed. Passengers will also be able to move with speeds. The pedestrians will still have the right of way, while bikers will also enjoy their ride. The option will receive support from environmentalists who will be happy with the fact that street trees will not be destroyed.

The elimination of small cars that carry two to five passengers and eliminating large buses carrying over fifty passengers will be of great benefit to the environment (Brears 2017). The emission of greenhouse gases will reduce significantly. The police officers are currently concerned with ensuring that the number of vehicles passing this road is as high as possible. However, they are missing the point when they focus on the number of vehicles. The fundamental goal should be to ensure that as many people as possible are facilitated to move from one place to another. As such, the use of buses will reduce pressure on police officers in Lishan Road. It is the best but most challenging option to meet.

The main challenge is that it may fail to get the support of the political class and the rich members of the society who may not be keen on using the BRT system. The political class and the financially empowered members of the society in China have a major influence on projects that get approval and funding from the government (Bhattacharya 2017). If they feel that this project does not meet their interest, they may oppose it by simply rejecting the proposed plan. There is also the fear that upon its implementation, private car owners would be convinced to avoid using their personal cars on this road.

In the case study provided, it was also noted that if the proposal is rejected, it might compromise the ability of the Sustainability Works Foundation from getting major contracts with the government. However, the claim is further from the truth. Holloway (2014) explains that government entities prefer working with principled consultants that prefer protecting the interest of the state instead of pleasing a few corrupt individuals. The strategy will protect the integrity of this firm. The fidelity of the company will make it admirable not only locally but also in the entire region. Moreover, even if a few government officials may not want to engage this firm because of its principles, public pressure will increase the demand for its services in the market.

Implementing the Project

The proposed plan of implementing this project is to eliminate the car lane to create the right of way for the BRT. It is important to note this is the cheapest of the three options (Kotter 2014). Given that the road already exists, it will only need some modifications instead of having to construct a new one from scratch. The implementation of the project will involve the use of various planning tools and techniques. The goal is to have a mass transit system that would decongest the city by eliminating traffic jam on Lishan Road. In this implementation plan, the focus will be to analyse project planning tools and techniques, resource scheduling allocation, the critical path and monitoring activities.

Project Planning Tools and Techniques

The team will need to embrace effective project planning tools and techniques that would enable the team to implement the project. One of the appropriate project management techniques for this project is the Waterfall model. The model is very popular in managing project because it is simple to implement. As shown in figure 1 below, one has to complete the team has to complete one step before moving to another. It means that if there is an issue with any of the stages of the implementation, it has to be addressed before taking another task in the next phase of implementation. In this project, the technique will help in defining steps that should be taken in the construction of the BRT system. After defining the requirements and analysing the capabilities of the team, the consultancy firm will develop a design that will have to be approved by the management of the city (Voehl and Harrington 2016). The implementation of the design will then take place before testing its appropriateness. If it meets the expectation, the deployment phase will involve the introduction of rapid transit buses. A team will have to be set up to help in its maintenance.

Waterfall model
Figure 1. Waterfall model (Dawson and Andriopoulos 2014 p. 67).

Lean project management is another concept that the team can embrace when implementing the project. This tool focuses on continuous identification and elimination of wastes from the planning stage to the final phase when handing a complete project to the sponsor (Courpasson and Vallas 2016). It holds the belief that the best way of eliminating wastes is to plan for it effectively. The planning process makes it easy to identify possible areas in the project where wastes can occur.

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Resource Scheduling and Allocation

This proposed plan may not be as expensive as it would have been if the original plan were to be implemented. However, a significant amount of money will have to be invested by the local government. Resource scheduling will involve what should be done in various phases of implementation and individuals who should be engaged in the process (Conforto and Amaral 2016). Resource scheduling should start at the initial stage of conducting the survey and conducting the feasibility study. Sustainability Works Foundation will be responsible for the activities at the initial stages of the survey. The consultant will also be responsible for conducting the design of the project. Before the resources can be allocated, the local government of Jinan City will need to have all the quotations and a proper justification of why the resources should be spent in that manner (Barnes 2017).

After the survey and feasibility study, the next step will be to design the road. Sustainability Works Foundation has the technical capacity of developing an appropriate design for the project. A quotation should be made and a justification why that amount of money would be needed in the project. The resource for this phase should be allocated to the consultant, and the activities should be completed within the agreed period. The design should meet the requirements of the client based on international standards (Calvo-Mora et al., 2015). The proposed plan of the BRT system will have to be approved by the relevant authorities of the city. As Hughes (2016) observes, when implementing a project based on international best practices, one cannot ignore local needs.

Currently, the Sustainability Works Foundation is relying on best practices of BRT systems in South America (Kloppenborg 2015). However, needs in this country may be unique compared with that of the countries where it has been implemented. As such, it would be necessary to take into consideration the unique needs in the city and find ways of making relevant adjustments to have the most efficient system. When activities in the preliminary stages are completed, the next phase is the actual construction activities (Zhang et al., 2018). This consultant can contract one of the best construction companies in the city to help implement the design. Adequate resources should be allocated to the designer within the right time.

Critical Path

The critical path method can help in planning can help in scheduling specific activities within a given period (Pugh 2016). The first step will be to conduct a survey. The activity can go concurrently with the development of the design (Sayigh 2015). The survey should be completed within one month. The next phase of developing an appropriate design for the upgrade of the current road should take about 3 months. The design will then be handed over to the relevant government authorities for approval. As Baycan (2016) notes, it is common for a client to propose changes in the design if there are specific areas that do not meet the expected standards. Such adjustments will be made to ensure that the client is comfortable with the proposed design. The approval process is expected to take four months because of the officials who have to go through it and ascertain that it meets the demand.

When the funds are made available, the design will be handed over to the road construction company to start the project of upgrading the road. Lishan Road is one of the major arteries feeding the city. As such, prolonged inconveniences cannot be tolerated. The contractor will be instructed to ensure that the upgrade is complete within ten months. The consultant and relevant government authorities will be responsible for monitoring and control activities. The process of monitoring the project would last ten months, that the project would be in progress. The final stage is to hand over the completed project to the client, which is the local government of Shandong Province. Figure 2 below shows the steps that will be taken in the implementation process.

Critical path.
Figure 2. Critical path.

Monitoring and Control

Sustainability Works Foundation will conduct monitoring and control activities in conjunction with the appointed officials from the government. As explained in the section above, the plan is to have a road construction company upgrade the current road to meet the new standards before purchasing the rapid transport buses that will be used. The consultant will have the primary role of monitoring and controlling activities that will be conducted in the project. One of the main issues that will have to be monitored closely will be to determine if the implementation process is in line with the design that was approved by the government (Pantouvakis and Bouranta 2017). Any deviation should be addressed as soon as possible before moving to the advanced stages.

The second area that would require monitoring is the quality of materials used. Ahmed and Hamdan (2015) explain that cases where a construction firm tries to cut the cost of operation by compromising on quality are often common. Quality can be compromised by using substandard materials or failing to follow all the steps required in the construction process. The consultant will have to bear the blame when quality requirements are not met. As such, Sustainability Works Foundation will have to monitor every step that the contractor takes in the implementation process with the primary goal of eliminating any attempts to deliver a substandard project.

Conclusion

The planned project of introducing the BRT system on Lishan Road will help ease traffic congestion in Jinan City. The improved movement of goods and people will boost the economy, especially after the government made the decision to make the city the national site for sports. However, the biggest challenge that the project is facing is the lack of land for expansion. The local government retracted its promise of acquiring the adjacent land, probably because of cost. It means that the planners have to find the best way of implementing the project using the current space. It will involve restructuring the road to meet the specific requirements of a BRT system. Of the three options available, the consultant should choose the third. It ensures that riders’ lane, pedestrians’ lane and street trees are preserved, not only because of beautification but also because of the need to protect the environment. This option will reduce the number of private cars on this road, which in turn will lower the rates of emission of greenhouse gases. Although political elites and the rich may be critical of this option, they also stand to benefit if the project is a success.

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Recommendations

Each of the three strategic options for implementing this project had different challenges. The chosen option was considered the most appropriate option for the image of the company and for the overall benefit of all members of this city. It is a genuine way of solving the problem, especially if the local government would consider enacting laws that would discourage the use of private cars in the city. Sustainability Works Foundation should consider the following recommendations to help reduce possible resistance among the elites in this city:

  • The management of the Sustainability Works Foundation should explain to the mayor and other policy-makers in the city that this strategy is unavoidable. The use of private cars on specific roads have to be avoided at specific times because everyone uses their own car then the movement would be paralysed. This should be seen as the first step towards having a system where people use mass transit means of movement to protect the environment and to address the problem of traffic congestion.
  • The consulting group should take advantage of the fact that this option would not require the government to spend more on land acquisition. As such, it would reduce the cost of the project.
  • Sustainability Works Foundation should not compromise on its principles by delivering a substandard product or ignoring the need to protect the environment.

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