Construction of several transmission lines under this project was hampered by right of way (wayleave) issues, cases of which were mostly unforeseen. The most serious case had to do with the change in a transmission line route, which dragged on beyond the loan completion date and was eventually completed in March 2021. The experience highlights the need for executing and implementing agencies (EAs/IAs) of future similar projects to fully secure right of way and finalize line routes before contract awards to minimize the risk of construction delays.
The development of Kiribati, as with other Pacific islands, suffers from extremely limited individual, organizational, and institutional capacity and from incomplete understanding of development. The country therefore continues to rely on TA to supplement capacity both in the public and the private sectors. This assistance can be long-term, intermittent, short-term and/or on call, to suit specific needs. While much TA is being provided, there is still a need for specific, respected, and impartial advice that the government can call on at short notice. It is therefore important that professional advisors work closely with the government to try and ensure reform momentum.
As with other development partners, ADB has been unable to sustain a commitment from the government to a reform program for more than a few years under the prevailing domestic political economy. While individual staff and government entities revealed a high degree of commitment to the program, limited capacities, high staff turnover, and changing government priorities weakened this commitment. The leadership, and therefore the sustained coordination of ownership and commitment, may not yet exist in Kiribati to secure policy reform for more than a few years.
Since 2007, the Hunan provincial government (HPG) has been committed to reforming the management of the Xiang River basin. It has established a clear, streamlined, and efficient coordination and management system in water transportation by optimizing the allocation and integration of resources and further rationalizing relationships between governments and communities at all levels. The project helped advance this institutional reform process by supporting the establishment of the Waterway Transport Development Committee to guide the formulation/update of inland shipping development policies and of the Hunan Provincial Water Transportation Construction and Investment Group (HPWTCIG) to accelerate the implementation of new water transportation systems and subsequently ensure their sustainable operation and maintenance. The establishment of the HPWTCIG also provided more financing channels for water transport development.
The implementing agency set up an environmental management office and provided adequate resources to effectively implement environmental safeguards and soil and water conservation measures. Environmental protection investment reaching CNY29.13 million, exceeded the budget estimates. Wastewater, waste gas, noise, and surface water quality were regularly monitored, and mitigation measures were undertaken, as necessary. To ensure effective ecological protection, special funds were allocated to joint dispatching, public campaigns, fish pass, a fish breeding and fish fry releasing station, and artificial fish reefs. The project also provided ecological compensation for fisheries and monitored the fish pass and fish proliferation.
This project consulted extensively with local governments, bureaus, and affected villages and persons throughout the preparation and implementation of the resettlement plan. It was the first reservoir project in Hunan Province to solicit opinions on resettlement through public hearing. It also avoided or minimized the acquisition of high-quality farmland and raised 5,195.98 mu of low-lying farmland in the reservoir area of tributaries to reduce permanent farmland loss as a result of the inundation of the reservoir. These good practices may be considered for appropriate replication in similar projects.
The LAR cost of this project was agreed at appraisal to be fully financed by counterpart funds. However, due to inadequate counterpart funds, and at government’s request, ADB established a new category of LAR and transferred $41 million from the loan to the local governments as advance funds. But liquidation of the advance funds took too long, resulting in the extension of the winding-up period by 14-month and the closing of all financial accounts by about 2 years after loan closure. The use of ADB loans for LAR in future projects should be carefully evaluated and any advance funds should be closely monitored. ADB should also provide adequate financial management trainings to all project implementers to improve financial performance and governance.
Weak capacity and poor performance of contractors and subcontractors comprised the primary reason for this project’s implementation delays. Underlying this weakness was a selection process largely confined to local contractors with limited experience and capacity. This was the result of ADB's procurement policy of precluding state-owned contractors under the Ministry of Transport, which are the major contractors in Viet Nam, from participating in projects managed by the Viet Nam Expressway Corporation. While strengthening the prequalification procedures for both international and domestic contractors, ADB and the government should carefully study the contract packaging of ADB-funded projects to ensure that this is attractive to better qualified private contractors. Both should also agree to promote the private contracting industry in Viet Nam, with the government taking proactive measures to avoid or mitigate contractors’ cash flow problems in ADB ongoing and future sovereign loan projects.
This project experienced a serious civil works cost overrun, causing it to avail of additional financing. The cost overrun stemmed from a host of factors, including inadequate design, price escalation during implementation, and additional works. The project detailed design, completed in October 2008, updated the civil works cost estimate to 55%–65% more than the appraisal estimate in November 2007. The actual total cost for all 8 civil works contracts rose by about 40% due to price increases. Strengthening the preparation of future similar projects in terms of more detailed design and cost estimates and including in the project cost contingencies well-estimated price increases, considering the country situation and historical records, will minimize the risk of cost overruns. Best procurement practices to minimize delays and the likelihood of price increases should also be introduced during the inception stage.
Insufficient M&E resources prevented this project from completing a baseline survey at inception and the envisaged end-of-project survey. Future projects should ensure that sufficient resources and capacity are in place for proper M&E, including regular tracking of progress toward targets.
The project piloted a food safety related restaurant grading system in two popular tourist destinations. Involvement of other government agencies, e.g., the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism and private associations in the conception and promotion of the system would have accelerated its rollout in the target destinations and scaled it up nationally.
Under the project, the SEAs organized 50 self-help groups to promote greater community participation in tourism-related economic and livelihood activities. Of these self-help groups, 35 were in Himachal Pradesh and 15 were in Punjab. The self-help groups in Himachal Pradesh comprised 360 members, 85% of whom were women, while those in Punjab had 1,720 members, with 95% women. Enormously surpassing the 30% target in each state, women’s membership in these groups enabled them to participate in the management of tourism activities and be employed in the construction and development of local tourism infrastructure. Upskilling and reskilling trainings provided by the project also amplified women’s opportunities to produce and earn from handicrafts, tailoring and embroidery, food processing, dairy farming, interior decoration, etc. The community-based interventions undertaken by the project, which resulted in substantial strategic gender benefits for women in the core areas of human capital development, economic empowerment, and the creation of women’s forums and agency mechanisms, were replicated in the subsequent tranches of the investment program. As with women, participation of the youth in tourism infrastructure development and related projects needs to be more systematically pursued and intensified.
Both the governments of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have entered into public-private partnership (PPP) agreements for a part of the assets created under the project. Based on the financial analysis at project completion, the revenues generated from these PPP arrangements and from the yearly allocations to the respective departments by the participating state governments and municipalities can absorb the operation and maintenance (O&M) cost of the project assets, estimated at 10% of capital costs. Revenues directly generated by the post-handover public agency owners, operating private agencies, and temple trusts from managing the assets would provide additional resources. Thus, even if the proposed subprojects were considered nonrevenue generating at appraisal, the experience shows there is scope for tourism infrastructure development projects to recover costs through tariffs, end-user charges, and the like. Planning cost-recovery schemes during the preparation of future similar projects could yield better results.
There is scope in tourism-related businesses for nonmonetary rewards, e.g., free travels and tours, shares in businesses, etc. to be provided to incentivize timely delivery of works and other subprojects. Possibilities should be explored, and options incorporated in the design of future similar projects.
The SEAs’ initial unfamiliarity with ADB procedures led to delays in recruiting consultants, and their mobilization occurred only 1 year after loan approval. Unforeseen delays in the preparation of detailed project reports for large packages involving specialized conservation and heritage works and the awarding of large contract packages that required extended time for implementation were also a major contributor to the 15-month extension of project duration. Advance actions to recruit consultants, start the design especially of complex infrastructure subprojects, package bids, and obtain statutory requirements would have helped minimize project delays.
A key factor for this project’s success was the state governments’ strong ownership and commitment to the project. This was strengthened even more by the project’s participatory implementation approach, which enabled the state executing agencies (SEAs) to ably manage the diverse ecotourism sites and create facilities for various target groups, and enough flexibility from ADB to allow changes in scope, as appropriate. Thus, despite being new to ADB policies and procedures, the SEAs were able to meet the project requirements albeit with an aggregate delay of 15 months in project completion. The government of India’s Department of Economic Affairs provided timely guidance and quick decisions. Regular tripartite meetings among the national government, the state governments, and the project management units helped identify bottlenecks and provide solutions to speed up execution. So did ADB’s regular review missions that assessed progress and advised on issues related to duplication with parallel government schemes, safeguards, and financial and reform management.
This project’s DMF contained some weaknesses, and opportunities to improve the DMF were missed during project implementation. This has made project evaluation less precise. In the future, more care should be given to ensuring that the DMF is coherent, with not too many output indicators and with baselines and measurable targets. This would facilitate accurate monitoring and evaluation of project performance throughout implementation and at completion.
Decision-making in procurement of works and contract administration issues took a long time. This delayed the commencement and progress of the civil works component. Also, the deployment of both the state executing agency and PMDC staff for contract management purposes was not well-planned, and the supervision of contractors was inadequate. The situation would have been helped if more attention were given to oversight and supervision matters during regular mission visits.
Implementation of this project was stalled by about a 12-month delay in the procurement of project management and design consultants (PMDCs). Consultancy contract administration likewise proved problematic, with delayed payments, output quality issues, and lack of trust for the services rendered. Issues such as these could be addressed either by factoring possible delays in project timelines or providing additional support to EAs/IAs in procurement and consultant management.
The project incorporated several road safety features into its design. While these have helped reduce fatal accidents, there is scope to do more to improve road safety. Common causes of accidents on good roads are negligent driving behavior, neglect of traffic rules, excessive speeding, and/or lack of road safety awareness. These problematic behaviors are heightened under mixed traffic conditions. Because this situation is widely observed on district roads, it is important for the state government to institutionalize systematic driver training, which could help reduce accidents in mixed traffic conditions.
In road construction projects, utility shifting is often contracted out to third-party entities specializing in said service. However, this arrangement can be misused by some contractors as an excuse for delays in the delivery of contracts. Incorporating utility shifting into the item-rate-contract in future projects could facilitate more efficient delivery of road works.
Under the road maintenance system introduced by the project, payments for the first year were made at pre-fixed rates with provisions for an annual increase in subsequent years. A comparison of the periodic maintenance payments made to contractors with the actual expenditures incurred showed beneficial returns. The periodic maintenance payment rates may be standardized for future use.
This project implemented a system-wide 5-year performance-based maintenance approach, which obliged contractors to maintain their constructed roads for 5 years. The approach worked well as it encouraged contractors to ensure quality construction for easier maintenance at later stages. This is the first time in India that the 5-year post-construction maintenance method was introduced for major district roads in such a scale and systematic, transformational manner. The arrangement, which was particularly effective in Madhya Pradesh because of the strong management capacity of its key road agencies, can be suitably replicated in other states.
A high degree of project readiness at appraisal and pre-commencement made the implementation of this project very efficient. Such high project readiness, which showed in the timely awarding of contracts, the availability of adequate project lands, and advanced preconstruction activities, enabled the project to be completed on time. It also provided higher time floats to address any performance issues among contractors and consultants and promoted faster and efficient utilization of loan funds, lower financing cost to the borrower, and the timely availability of improved road assets.
This project only partly complied with the loan covenant on the submission of audited project financial statements. Independent chartered accountants audited the project financial accounts and statements, and the audited project financial reports were submitted to ADB by the two executing agencies. However, audit shortcomings were observed and commented on by ADB, but specific steps were not undertaken to resolve the issues.