Quality Control

Quality Control

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Kiribati’s leading inspection team: Quality Control Unit.

 Introduction.

Building regulations are developed to remind architects, engineers, contractors, developers and building professionals that despite being creative and innovative in their professions, public safety remains their top priority. Buildings are designed for people but not vice versa. Hence, buildings must be designed and built in a way they are safe to the public. To guarantee safety, buildings must be thoroughly assessed from the design stage until construction completion. Failure to do so will not doubt result in injuries and in worse cases the loss of lives. The Quality Control and Inspection Unit is tasked to update and enforce building regulations, assess design proposals and conduct quality assurance and quality control inspections to construction work. The mission statement of the Quality Control and Inspection Unit is to ensure a safe and improved built environment for ‘Te I-Kiribati’.

Background.

The Quality Control and Inspection Unit is the newest section of the Ministry of Public Works and Utilities, MPWU. It was officially established in January 2013. Despite being the youngest division, the demand of its services is increasing like any other section within the MPWU. In 2013 when it was first established, the unit only conducted inspection work to maintenance projects that were managed and implemented by the MPWU. A year later, its role extended to include new construction projects that were managed by MPWU and implemented by local contractors. It was the end of 2015 when MPWU realized the need to monitor, control and improved the quality of all building construction projects in Kiribati. The Quality Control and Inspection Unit was then tasked to complete the National Building Code of Kiribati, NBCK, and enforced the Building Act 2006 which has been left on the shelf for many years.

In late 2016 the review to the final draft of the NBCK was completed and confirmed to be fit for purpose. Cabinet endorsed the Code and approved the Quality Control and Inspection Unit to implement the Building Act and Code. On 21st February 2017, Vice President and Secretary to Cabinet signed the Building Code into law and legally authorized staff of the Quality Control and Inspection Unit to be regarded as Building Inspectors under the Building Act 2006. Since that date, staff of this youngest division has the power to stop construction work when they believe the Act has been breached. Below is the organizational chart for the Quality Control and Inspection Unit.

Main Responsibilities:- (The main responsibilities of the division is as follow:)

  1. Review and update the National Building Code of Kiribati to ensure it matches the current construction technologies and suits the standard living of I-Kiribati people;

  2. Enforce the National Building Code of Kiribati and Building Act 2006;

  3. Assess infrastructure design proposals to ensure they comply with building regulations and safe to serve their intended purposes;

  4. Conduct inspections to construction activities to ensure they comply with Kiribati regulations and implemented to the best quality possible;

  5. Identify weaknesses of the current construction methodologies and develop new guidelines or review existing codes to address the identified issues;

  6. Monitor the performances of building construction contractors.

      

Major Issues: (There are four major issues the Quality Control and Inspection Unit is currently facing.) 

  1. Shortage of staff to meet the demand for building construction inspections. This issue is becoming serious following the signing of Building Code into law and the enforcement of the Building Act 2006. It is anticipated that this issue will get worse when the Building Act 2006 includes residential houses which is planned for next year 2018. There are two options that are considered to be practical solutions. One is to request for two or inspector posts and the other option is to outsource the building inspector role. The second option needs to be considered more carefully if it is a preference to MPWU administration;

  2. The second major issue is lack of experienced engineers. The unit consists of recent graduate engineers who are developing their skills while occupying the positions. This slows down the progress of the division to reach its targeted goals. The division is inviting volunteers from New Zealand and Australia to work with staff of the Quality Control and Inspection Unit and at the same time coach or mentor them on the job. The process will take time but it is a great future investment for the Unit and the Ministry;

  3. Lack of equipment to carry out the work. The division received AUD 18,000 this year to purchase office equipment. Two printers, four desktop computers and two laptops have been purchased from this funding. The engineering tools such as the compressing testing machines, Penetrometer and other engineering equipment are planned to be purchased in next year’s budget. Transport to urgent inspection requests is another critical issue that needs to be addressed. It is proposed that a separate transport for the inspectors will be included in next year’s budget.

  4. Access to Australian Standards that are quoted in the National Building Code of Kiribati. Accessing these standards requires a subscription fee. This will also be included in next year’s budget. 

Governing Acts & Policies:

 

  1. Building Act 2006 directs all design proposals to be assessed by the Ministry of Public Works. Once the design proposal receives MPWU’s approval, construction work can then commences which must be inspected upon reaching the stages specified in the code. The Act also authorizes staff of the Quality Control and Inspection Unit to perform construction inspections;

  2. National Building Code of Kiribati – This is a technical standard that has been used to guide all design and construction work.

  3. Occupational Health and Safety Act – The Act legally binds employers to ensure that all their employees work in a safe environment. Referring to the building industry, all contractors must wear their persona protective equipment, PPEs, when doing construction work. 

 

Projects

Since the enforcement of the Building Act, the Unit has been performing inspections to the construction of Government, Commercial and Public buildings. Tabled below is a list of building projects and their status:

Projects   Description   Status
Fish Market Center at Bairiki Wharf  

Administered by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource Development. The building was designed by the Kiribati Housing Corporation. 

  57% - There are design issues that cause project delays.
Tebwanimwaneka Primary School  

The project is managed by the Kiribati Education Improvement Programme from the Ministry of Education. There are two phases of the project and Phase I is the construction of one double storey classroom with 8 unit and a single storey kit set. The second Phase is the refurbishment of the existing classrooms. 

 

Phase I is complete and Phase II is in a defect liability period. 

Temwanoku Primary School

 

Phase I is ongoing. There are three 10 unit double storey classrooms to be built. Again, the project is administered by KEF from the Ministry of Education.

 

25% - One ten unit double storey classroom is complete and there are two more to be built

Dai Nippon Primary School

 

 Phase I consists of two double storey classrooms and phase II is the refurbishment of existing classrooms. 

 

 Both Phases are 100% complete

Buota Clinic

 

Managed by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and implemented by a private contractor. The project has been idle for more than two months due to shortage of construction materials. Under the agreement, the Ministry of Health will supplied construction materials to the contractor. That is a decision from the Ministry of Health administration office. 

 

35% - The slab block walls have been 

Buota Rainwater Harvesting Project

 

Nuati Lotolua, MPWU Structural Engineer, has been involved in this project. The project is paused due to the incapability of the contractor to complete the project. The project was prepared by the KAP III office and passed on to MPWU to manage construction work. 

 

   Approximately 50% complete

Kuria Island Council Living Quarter

 

A project from the Ministry of Internal Affairs that is monitored by the Quality Control and Inspection Unit. There is an issue with the shortage of building materials especially cements. Kuria Island Council and MIA are resolving this issue.

 

 Approx. 80% complete. The remaining work are casting the tank bases and cosmetic works to the buildings.

 

Future Plans

Besides its main objectives, the Quality Control and Inspection Unit aims to ensure that the quality of construction work in Kiribati is improved. This will be done through the review and development of design and construction standards as well as providing support to local building contractors. The unit also aims to conduct research on local materials that can be used for building and civil construction work. Reviewing the Unit’s workforce is in progress and recommendation on whether or not new posts will be required to accommodate the research work will soon be presented to the MPWU Administration.  

Contact Details

Staff Email address
Paul Takabiri This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Nuati Lotolua This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Ereata Kakau This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
James Tetaua This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Teresia Kaimatang This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Conclusion:

The Quality Control and Inspection Unit is currently enforcing the National Building Code of Kiribati and Building Act 2006. It assess design proposals and conducts inspections to construction work. The Building Act 2006 is currently applied to Commercial, Government and Public buildings. Residential constructions are targeted to be included in the Act by early 2018.

 

Regulating the design and construction of private residences will not doubt double the workload of the unit. Expanding the unit’s role to conduct research on local materials that can be used for building and civil construction will also add pressure to the current workforce of the unit. Reviewing the existing unit’s workforce is underway and recommendations will soon be presented to Director of Engineering Services and MPWU Administration. 

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