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Infrastructure – Don’t Take it for Granted

This morning I was reading an article in Transport Professional about the construction of over 1000miles of roads in Afghanistan and the effect it has had on peace and prosperity in the areas affected.

In the developed world we are lucky that we are served by infrastructure that has been built over hundreds of years. Developing countries are trying to bridge this gap in tens.  Admittedly there are some short cuts with telecoms being installed either wireless or via fibre optic, instead of having to go for copper first.

The big message for us in the UK is to realise how fortunate we are that earlier generations invested for us and this investment supports our relative prosperity.  Also that all of our existing infrastucture, roads, railways, airports, sewers, power transmission systems, etc. have elements within them with finite lives.

So this leads to some interesting thoughts, a few of which are:

  • There are fundamental weaknesses in the management of infrastructure, some organisations do not even know the extent of the asset base, without this they cannot plan for the future;
  • Many of the components, bridges, pipes, masts, harbours, sea defences, culverts, etc are reaching or are beyond their original design life;
  • Without good quality maintenance these components will not reach their optimum lives;
  • We cannot afford to replace great swathes of our infrastructure;
  • New infrastructure builds should have realistic design lives.

What is certain is that our physical infrastructure is every bit as important as Schools, Hospitals and our Defence Systems.  Without it they cannot function!

Maintenance is often seen as the Cinderella branch of the construction industry, but when you know you can’t afford to buy new shoes, you should look after your old ones carefully.

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