A Need for Clarity & Access

The possibility of a Public Sector Unit (PSU) being awarded the contracts for constructing the Sammaan facilities on a nomination basis was greeted with great excitement, support, and an overwhelming sense of relief; after a year-and-a-half of false starts and setbacks, it was beginning to look like the tendering process was finally over. That positive outlook has been tempered quite a bit over the past two months as the decision on a PSU’s nomination remains pending, leaving the team in an extended state of limbo and uncertain as to what steps can be taken to expedite the review.

Much of this uncertainty lies in the lack of clarity regarding what is entailed in the review process currently under way with various representatives at the H&UD, Finance, and Public Health Departments. We simply don’t know what the protocols are, who is responsible for each step, and what the timelines associated with each are. Ultimately, the team finds itself in a position of having to be reactive, to wait for requests from the various government departments and then respond accordingly. This is especially unnerving and frustrating considering Project Sammaan has an interface management partner dedicated solely to facilitating the government interactions, working towards expediting the innumerable approvals required prior to construction, and providing the larger team with clarity on the government structure and processes; it certainly speaks to the level of complexity inherent to working with the various government agencies.

In an effort to mitigate the stress and confusion of this, and in the hopes of offsetting the impact further delays has on the viability of the project, the team has made a concerted effort to stay in constant communication with the officials acting as nodal officers for the review process at the various departments. This is done through every means available to us: phone calls, emails, letters, and face-to-face meetings whenever possible. 

This last point is particularly challenging as, above and beyond simply finding time in the busy schedules of these senior officials, gaining entry to the Secretariat building in which many offices are located is not easy. Unlike the municipal corporation buildings that are relatively open to the public, gaining entry to the Secretariat building requires security passes and, consequently, pre-approved meeting times. With the municipal corporations, the team has had success in expediting matters by paying courtesy calls or fitting in meetings by waiting outside offices. This level of flexibility is afforded by accessibility that is just not possible at the offices of the senior state officials. Attempts at securing monthly passes to facilitate this access to the Secretariat have been woefully unsuccessful.

Clarity and access is what the project team needs to ensure that everything that can be done to expedite matters with Sammaan is being done. In order to accomplish the former, a process map with associated timelines and clearly defined responsible parties for each step would be the greatest asset; to gain the latter, efforts would have to be made by senior officials working on the project, and with the project team, to facilitate easier entry to the Secretariat offices. Unfortunately, until either or both of these “asks” are accommodated, the project team remains in the dark as to the nature of the PSU review, and when a final decision can be expected. Until then, the only option is to keep pushing forward with the full array of communications efforts.

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