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Investigating the effectiveness of the project management system utilized by the eThekwini Water and Sanitation Unit to implement capital projects.

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Amongst many, water and sanitation services are essential services that municipalities are mandated to provide for their local communities in South Africa. These services are provided through infrastructure projects which are drawn from the National Development Plan (NDP) and Integrated Development Plan (IDP). They form an integral part in driving economic growth within the municipalities. The project management system (PMS) is one way of minimizing the risks of project failure during the implementation process. This research seeks to explore the PMS utilized by eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS) when implementing its capital projects. The study was aimed at exploring all inefficiencies associated with the PMS that is utilized by EWS when implementing capital projects. The qualitative research method alongside with the guided interview questionnaire were used to collect data for this study. The targeted population was employees who directly participate in project implementation and development of the policies and frameworks within the EWS, such as engineers, project managers, senior managers, and deputy heads. The data that was collected by means of interviews (physical and MS Teams) was thematically analysed using NVivo software. The emerged themes were used to develop findings and address the research objectives. The dual interview approach enabled efficient data collection under the COVID-19 conditions by allowing flexibility to have physical and virtual interviews. The key and significant findings and recommendations were drawn from the research results to address the research objectives. The research results revealed that females are still less represented in senior engineering positions at EWS. Most of the staff received a project management (PM) short course but none of them have a formal PM qualification or accreditation. It was found that when implementing projects at EWS, the legislative and financial requirements are given the highest attention while the PM requirements are lacking. The PMS was found to be lacking, no PM framework in place and the current organisational structure was found to be not ideal for successful projects implementation. On a brighter side, it was found that Multidisciplinary Project Team (MDPT) Business Process Map (BPM) led to improved projects delivery performance. There was a general finding regarding the lack of PM resources such qualified PM staff, funding/budget, skills, accountability, and leadership. The focus areas of improvement were recommended and the suitable project management framework for EWS was provided.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.