Exploring Causes of Delays in National Road and Highway Projects in Developing Construction Economy

Sebghatullah Karimi, Poorang Piroozfar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Delay in construction projects, especially in road and highway projects, is a universal phenomenon. Afghanistan construction industry is no exception. There are factors causing delays in the Afghanistan construction industry which have negative effects on the key project stakeholders and the project’s deliverables and outcomes. This research aims to identify the causes of delays that affect highway and road projects in Afghanistan and to provide recommendations in order to minimize or control delays in such projects. This will help, in return, facilitate and improve the delivery of roads and highways projects in Afghanistan. To achieve this aim, the study sets out to achieve the following objectives: 1) to determine the most important causes of delay that affect road and highway projects in Afghanistan, 2) to identify the severity of the delay causes from clients’ and contractors’ perspectives, 3) to investigate the differences and discrepancies between clients’ and contractors’ opinions and views, and based on first three objectives, 4) to finally provide recommendations for minimizing and/or controlling delays in road and highway projects, to improve the status-quo and to facilitate procurement/delivery of road and highway projects in Afghanistan. Causes of delay were gathered upon conducting a critical literature review of different types of construction, in different countries. An expert interview and a questionnaire survey formed the basis of this paper, listing 29 important causes of delay in such projects. The major causes of delay then were categorized into three groups following main stages of the highway projects, namely: 1) preparation, 2) procurement, and 3) implementation. The questionnaire survey was distributed to 100 construction participants and 79 were received who represent the government in road projects and contractors. Relative importance index (RII) was calculated and according to the highest values the top ten delay causes of road projects in Afghanistan were determined. Spearman correlation index was used to assess the correlation of causes and groups between clients and contractors. The findings of the study revealed that the top 10 significant factors causing a delay in road projects in Afghanistan are; security (war, theft, kidnapping, etc.), shortage of equipment and material or financial status of contractors, land acquisition, corruption in the procurement process, progress payment delays by owners/clients, non-consideration of security risks in the procurement process, Inaccurate design and bills of quantities, insufficient contractors’ experience, poor qualification of the contractors’ technical staff and award project to lowest bids. The findings will help clients and contractors to mitigate or prevent delays in road and highway projects in Afghanistan. Finally, to help overcome delays in road and highway projects more effectively, recommendations have been made for fundamental reforms in procurement systems for major projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-148
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Engineering, Project, and Production Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2022


  • Road projects
  • Highway Projects
  • Causes of Delay
  • Construction Industry
  • Developing countries
  • Afghanistan


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