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John van Rijn

INDEVELOPMENT; Labour-based Road Works


Any part of this publication may be reproduced or translated provided that the source and author are fully
Edition 2005.

INDEVELOPMENT; Labour-based Road Works

Table of contents:
1 Introduction .............................................................................................................................. 4
2 Selecting technology for public works..................................................................................... 5
2.1 Relevance of economic studies.......................................................................................... 7
3 Labour-based products ............................................................................................................. 9
3.1 Geometric design............................................................................................................... 9
3.1.1 Roads in hilly terrain..............................................................................................................................9
3.2 Cross drainage ................................................................................................................. 10
3.3 Side Drains ...................................................................................................................... 11
3.3.1 Gabions................................................................................................................................................12
4 Labour-based production technology..................................................................................... 14
4.1 Earthworks....................................................................................................................... 14
4.2 Camber formation............................................................................................................ 18
4.3 Compaction...................................................................................................................... 21
4.4 Soil stabilisation .............................................................................................................. 23
4.5 Concrete technology ........................................................................................................ 24
4.5.1 Concrete Pavements.............................................................................................................................25
4.6 Bituminious surfacing...................................................................................................... 25
4.7 Culverts and Sewer Pipes ................................................................................................ 26
4.8 Maintenance activities ..................................................................................................... 28
4.9 Selection of materials ...................................................................................................... 28
4.10 Tools and equipment .................................................................................................... 28
4.10.1 Machine capacities...............................................................................................................................28
5 Institutional development and organisational strengthening.................................................. 33
5.1 Institutional development ................................................................................................ 33
5.2 Pilot programs/projects.................................................................................................... 34
5.2.1 Inputs ...................................................................................................................................................34
5.2.2 Culture .................................................................................................................................................35
5.2.3 Systems................................................................................................................................................35
5.2.4 Staff .....................................................................................................................................................35
5.2.5 Relationship with the contractors.........................................................................................................35
APPENDIX 2: PRODUCTION NORMS EQUIPMENT............................................................. 39
APPENDIX 3: GANGFORMATIONS ........................................................................................ 43
APPENDIX 4: ROADWORKS IN THE HIMALAYAS............................................................. 51

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Many manuals for labour-based technology seem to be produced for road
works. However this does not mean that the technology cannot be applied
on any of the other infrastructure works. On the contrary, it is very easy to
apply the technology on irrigation, water supply, sanitation, forestry, soil
conservation, building construction works etc. In fact it is usually already
done, or it is easier to apply than on the road works.
Most building works are highly labour-intensive in nature. Earthworks in
water supply, sanitation and irrigation projects can almost always easily be
carried out with labour-based technology.
In the road sector, the application of labour-based technology is most
challenging. If civil engineers can apply the technology in the road sector,
they will be able to apply in any other infrastructure sector.
The following websites presents practical manuals for road works.


• http://www.transport-

This document intends to supplement the above-mentioned manuals.

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Labour-based technology is the combination of
product and production process technology for the
provision of infrastructure assets. It uses those
infrastructure products, which fulfils the needs of
the end-users at the lowest total costs. These
products are constructed and maintained with the
cheapest production processes possible. Generally
in low and middle-income countries, where labour
costs are low, the most efficient technology tends
to be more labour intensive than in high-income
Labour-based technology is not a technology that
only uses labourers and some tools. In most of the
situations, such production process technologies
(labour and tools only) produce outputs of inferior
quality, which results in an increase of the total
costs to sustain the infrastructure asset.
Allocation of A very important aspect of labour-based technology is that assessments are
resources. made of the required technology and the most efficient production process.
This means more time and resources are needed before the actual
production/construction. At the same time, more labour-intensive
production process needs more management inputs, in particular during
implementation. After all it is more difficult to manage people than it is to
manage machines. Thus labour-based technology requires more- and more
sophisticated management; it requires an organisation with more levels,
and finally more- and more formalised communication.

Cost estimating To apply the efficiency rule, cost estimates have to be made. Cost
estimates can be made with various different levels of detail, but three of
them are more frequently used than others.
• Rough estimate
• Indicative estimate
• Detailed estimate

Which one will be used depends mainly on the purpose of the estimate and
required accuracy. For selection of products, mostly rough and indicative
estimates are used. If the difference in costs between different alternatives
is very obvious, a rough estimate would provide the necessary answer.
When it can be expected that the difference is uncertain, it may be even
necessary to produce a detailed estimate. In particular, when such
uncertain differences could cost the government/client considerable amount
of money. Detailed estimates require more information inputs. Thus it may
be even necessary to produce two or more detailed designs in order to
make the final selection. The more expensive the product, the more likely
these situations will occur.
Rough estimate A rough estimate for a building would for example be based on indexes for
the neighbourhood, luxury and quality, area of land and area/ volume of
the building.
Indicative estimate An indicative estimate will breakdown the building in different elements,

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M2 floor (type a), floor (type b), inner walls, roof etc and multiply these
figures with the respectively unit costs.
Detailed estimates To prepare a detailed estimate it will be necessary to break down the
construction process and to budget all the required resources, materials,
work force, and equipment.

Product selection The products are designed and selected on basis of three criteria:
1. Terms of reference or schedule of requirements
2. Financial analysis
3. Risk analysis

Schedule of The schedule of requirements usually consists of four elements:

requirements 1. Environmental demands, which can not be influenced by the project
2. Functional requirements, related to required impacts/performance
3. Operational requirements/demands, related to the operation and
maintenance of the product
4. Design constraints, like time, resources, budget etc.

Financial analysis In general there are two principles of financial analysis:

1. Cost-benefit analysis
2. Cost analysis

Both analyses should ideally be made over the total required life of the
product. Note that the required life of the product is usually different from
the expected life of a product. For example bridges usually have a longer
life than required, but the asphalt pavement on the deck has a considerable
shorter life than required and needs to be replaced several times before the
final reconstruction of the bridge.

Cost-benefit analysis Cost-benefit analysis can only be used when it is possible to express the
impacts of the product. A common used technique for cost-benefit analysis
is the calculation of the Net Present Value (NPV). The calculation of the NPV
is one of the discounted cash flow methods. Note that it is necessary to
discount the cash flows.1Most products have different life expectancies after
construction. When comparing products with unequal lifetimes the NPV is
not adequate as a measure. In order to make these products comparable
the uniform annuity series (UAS) can be used. This UAS is defined as the
annuity whose present value equals the NPV.
Cost-benefit analyses are usually only used for the identification and
ranking of the infrastructure asset. It is less common to use this technique
for selecting the production process technologies.
Cost analysis Most often the financial analysis can be limited to cost comparisons. Costs
are all the expenditures made in order to provide the product during the
total required life. Thus it contains, investment (construction costs),
operation costs, maintenance costs and replacement costs (usually the
same as the investment costs). The product with the lowest total costs
during the total required life will be ranked as number one.

Indirect cost In theory governments could take into account indirect costs and tax

Discounting is the technique of reducing the nominal (numerical) value of future sums of money to their
present worth.

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returns in their cost analysis. For example assume that a government uses
capital-intensive approaches instead of labour-based technology, because
when comparing the direct cost of construction, labour-based technology
was found to be more expensive. But when the government also provides a
social benefit to the un/underemployed; its total expenditure using capital
intensive methods may be higher than when it would have used labour-
based technology and provided employment to a portion of the un/under
employed. In addition many countries have to import heavy equipment
items and their fuel affecting the foreign exchange and governments
foreign cash reserves negatively. Various studies have proven the positive
macro-economic impacts of labour-based technology over equipment-based
technologies. Additional economic growth leads to additional income (taxes)
for the governments and in theory the cost comparisons could take these
financial benefits into account.
Although the theory is simple there are quite some constraints to adjust the
cost comparisons. To start with, usually civil engineers prepare the cost
comparisons. They do not have economic data and are not trained in this
kind of analysis. Gathering the necessary information is costly and difficult
(if at all possible for the economic growth aspects). But probably more
important, infrastructure providing actors do not receive the additional
benefits or they are not paying for the additional costs. These come and go
from other (government) pockets. Without strict instructions and control on
these instructions, infrastructure-providing agencies will not take into
account these indirect costs or incomes in their cost estimates.

Risk analysis Risk is the change of damage multiplied with the damage. Breakdowns of
some infrastructure products are more likely to occur than other products.
If the damage is very high in financial or social-economic terms, the
project/client may want to select the product with lower change of


In many middle-income countries, labour-based (equipment-supported)
technology and equipment-based technologies may be in the same price
range. Labour-based (equipment-supported) technology has a number of
economic advantages over equipment-based technologies, like:
• Income effects
• Backward linkages
• Forward linkages
• Reduction foreign cash flow
Income effects The immediate purpose of the ILO is to maximise short-term employment
opportunities and alleviate transient poverty. Employment creation is seen
as one of the most effective means to alleviate poverty.
Backward linkages Backward Linkages relate to the expenditures for local produced and
purchased materials, tools and equipment. The costs for the project are
then income for the providers. The providers on their turn will buy
products. In other words the expenditures are recycled in the local
economy and contribute the GNP.
Forward linkages Forward linkages, as defined here, derive from the spending of earnings
during construction, most significant of which are wages paid to workers.
Foreign cash flow When imported equipment is replaced by local available labour, economies
will reduce their foreign cash flow.

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Studies? The question arises; is it relevant to conduct ex ante evaluations,

quantifying these impacts, for each project? Such studies are usually very
expensive and the outcomes are very predictable. The above statements
are common sense, widely accepted and go without saying. Quantifying the
macro-economic impacts however is a different matter. In fact it is very
difficult and seems always to be subject to discussion. Such studies may
only contribute if more alternatives are studied. For example if labour-
based technology is 20% more expensive would its indirect effects be
higher or lower than investing these 20% additional resources in other
public service delivery like, education and health?

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The cost of new roads can be enormously reduced through setting the
optimal geometric design standards. Too often road width and gradients are
over designed, resulting in unnecessarily costs. TRL provides some
guidelines to set appropriate design standards.
Geometric standards TRL states: Each inter-urban road may be classified as being arterial,
collector or access in nature.
Arterial Arterial roads are the main routes connecting national and international
centres. Trip lengths are likely to be relatively long and levels of traffic flow
and speeds relatively high.
Collector Collector roads have the function of linking traffic to and from rural areas,
either direct to adjacent urban centres, or to the arterial road network.
Access Access roads are the lowest level in the network hierarchy. Vehicular flows
will be very light. TRL designed the below presented table:

Road function Traffic flow (ADT) Width Maximum gradient %

Carriage way Shoulder
Arterial 5000-15000 6.5 2.5 8
1000-5000 6.5 1.0 8
Collector-Arterial 400-1000 5.5 1.0 10
Collector-Access 100-400 5.0 1.0 10
Access 20-100 3.0 1.5 15
<20 2.5/3.0 Passing places 15/20

Passing places The lowest design class with a width of 3.0 (2.5) metres will not allow
passing and overtaking to occur and passing places must be provided. The
increased width at passing places should be at minimum 5.0 metres.
Normally passing places should be located every 300 to 500 metres
depending on the terrain and geometric conditions. The minimum length of
a passing place should be 20 metres.

3.1.1 Roads in hilly terrain

Following terrain Construction of roads in hilly or mountainous terrain may easily result in
contours erosion of the slopes and even result in landslides. The design of the road
has major consequences in this respect. Roads that follow the contours of
the terrain are less likely to result in high cuts and therefore in unstable
slopes. In particular on low-volume roads such alignments should be
considered, as the main purpose of the road is just providing access and
speed is only of minor importance.
Soil materials The design should also avoid excavation of the slopes in general but in
particular of soil with low cohesion.
The amount of excavation can be reduced if the design of the road is based
on cut and fill principles. Basically it is mass-haul balance technique. It
should be kept in mind that the fill part will have sufficient support to carry
the road, including traffic under snow or rainy circumstance. The designer
can consider including retaining walls in the design to increase that support.
The retaining walls are used to hold back fill, maintain a difference in the
elevation f the ground surface and to stop the movement of the instable soil

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Retaining walls limit the height of the cuts and fills on slopes. They
therefore reduce the area of disturbance of the soil and rock cover and can
alleviate the aesthetic impact of a road in its landscape.

Source: ITECO; A Guide to Proper Design, Construction and Maintenance, Technical

Sheets, 1993.


Almost always it is necessary to apply cross drainage on a road, because
the water from higher ground on one side of the road has to be lead to the
lower ground on the other. Cross drainage is also required where the road
goes downhill from both directions to a low point. At this point, water
collects and cross drains are needed.
A number of structures can be used as cross drains. The amount of water
expected to flow during a bad flood determines the structure to be selected.
Drifts Drifts allow water to cross the road on the surface. Drifts are cheap and
easy to construct and are well suited to roads with relatively little traffic
crossing riverbeds that are dry for most of the year. But drifts may also be
used in more challenging situations with more water flow during the year.
The main advantages of drifts over culverts are that they cause less
erosion, they are simple to construct, the required amount of excavation is
relatively small and culverts may be blocked and therefore cause local
Culverts Culverts are usually made of a single line of concrete pipes, placed in
trenches and covered over to carry the water under the road. Culverts
require sufficient space between the bottom of the watercourse and floor of
the road deck. Often culverts require erosion protection on the downstream
side. It should be kept in mind that they require regular routine
Vented drifts are usually needed where large flows of
water are likely. It is made of a number of culverts
imbedded in concrete. Most of the time water flows
through the pipes and during peak flow the water will also
run over the road. As they are designed to be overtopped,
it is necessary to protect the water-bank structure in the
direct vicinity of the structure.

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Bridges The last option to arrange cross drainage is a bridge.

The location of river crossings is an important step in

the design process. Preferable the angle between the
road and the river would be close to 90o. The river
should not be crossed in its curves. Because due to
erosion it is likely that the river will change position
over the years. Subsequently the river crossing should
not be located at places where silting or scouring takes
place. Steep banks and steep approaches require a lot
of expensive earthworks. The ideal slope for a drift
approach is about 5 %.


The side drains need to have sufficient capacity to collect all rainwater from
the road carriageway and dispose of it quickly and in a controlled manner to
minimise damage. Sides drains can basically be constructed in three forms:
V-shaped, rectangular or as a trapezoid.

The V-shape is the standard shape for ditches constructed by a motor-

grader. It can be easily maintained by heavy equipment, however it carries
a low capacity. The rectangular shape requires little space but needs to be
lined to maintain its shape. When using labour-based methods, it is
possible to construct a trapezoid shaped side drain. This shape carries a
high flow capacity and by carefully selecting the gradients of its side slopes,
will resist erosion.

Flow velocity A velocity of 0.6 to 0.8 m/s is often quoted a minimum that will not result
in heavy siltation and will reduce weed growth. In earth canals, however,
this velocity requires a steep longitudinal bottom slope, which is seldom
possible in flat areas. The maximum permissible velocity should not cause
erosion of the bottom and side slopes. The table below present the
maximum permissible velocity in earth canals.

Materials Flow velocity (m/s)

Fine sand 0.45
Non-colloidal sandy loam 0.55
Non-colloidal silt loam and alluvial silts 0.6
Firm loam, volcanic ash 0.75
Shift clay and colloidal alluvial silts 1.10
In windy sections the permissible velocities are reduced by 10 to 20%.

The side slopes also have a maximum slopes, these are presented in the
following table:

Material Side slope canal

Rock 1:0

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Stiff clay 2:1

Cohesive medium soils 1:1 or 2:3
Cohesive sandy soils 1:2
Fine sand 1:3
Typical side slopes for canals

Longitudinal gradients on all roads should preferable not exceed 12%. If the
longitudinal gradient of an earth or gravel road is higher than 10% it is
advisable to protect the road surface with a protective layer (asphalt,
concrete, bricks or stone pitching). Otherwise it rills will be formed. If the
longitudinal gradient is higher than 7%, the rainwater will not flow from the
road but on the road. It is therefore important to minimise the amount of
water entering the road. Therefore drains, gullies are constructed on the
mountainside to prevent rainwater accessing the road surface. Mountain
drains are also recommendable along rice fields, natural springs and other
moist areas.
One of the considerations during defining the road alignment is avoiding of
falling objects from the mountainside on the road. Often the road will
zigzag and different road segments may be located above or on top of each
other. Note that uphill roads discharge water and other debris. It may be
necessary to divert the water with drains from the uphill road to avoid
disturbances on the downhill segment of the road.

3.3.1 Gabions
This product can be well constructed with labour-based (equipment-
supported) technology. Many web pages provide information about

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Earthworks involve the loosening, removal, disposal and handling of
earthen materials in the construction process-excavation of cutting and
construction of embankment.
The principal activities are:
• Excavation which includes levelling, cut to crossfill, U-cut and borrow
• Loading, hauling and unloading
• Filling, including spreading and compaction

Levelling Levelling of bumps and depressions is necessary to provide a sufficient

width for the road at uniform level. Levelling is best carried out with hoes,
rakes and shovels. The bumps and ridges are cut and the soil is raked,
pushed or thrown into the holes and depressions with the hoe. Deep hoes
should be compacted in layers with hand-rammers.
Cut to cross fill Cut to cross fill means that the soil is excavated (cut) from one side of the
road and used as fill material at the other. If the excavated soil is not used,
it is going to spoil. It is dumped outside the embankment.
High cuts In high cut, excavation is more difficult to organise. It is especially difficult
to allow the workers enough space to work. It is, therefore advisable to
excavate in steps. Providing a bench for the next day’s work. The number
of steps depends on the total height. The best excavation height is between
1 and 1.5 meters.

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U-cut The U-cut is a cut, which is roughly U-shaped. The road is cut through a
hillcrest in order to reduce the gradient. If U-cuts are deeper that one-
meter the excavation should be organised in several steps.

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Borrow When sufficient suitable material is not available from the roadway
excavations, additional material must be obtained from sources situated
beyond the site. Borrow area parallel to the road should be drained
wherever possible to ensure that pounded water will not seep through and
weaken the embankment or fill.

Work in Quarries A good quarry is one, which requires the minimum work for the maximum
output. In selecting a quarry the following aspect should be considered:
• Quality of material
• Depth of soil over the wanted material
• Cost of excavation and transport
• Hauling distance
• Availability of access road

Finally, it is important to establish whether or not the quarry is located in

low-lying terrain. If so, this may well cause the quarry to become flooded
and un-workable when it rains.

The quarry layout should allow the vehicles and carts to enter and leave
without being in each other’s way. A circular traffic flow, requiring only
single lanes is ideal.

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After the alignment is cleared from bushes, grasses, roots, other
vegetation, boulders and setting out has taken place than the bulk
excavation to achieve the level terrace can be carried out. The terrace fill
needs to be compacted to ensure good geometric quality for the following
operations, see also the section on compaction.

Ditching The materials of the side drains usually can be used to construct the
camber. The camber is nothing more than sloping of the road. Sometimes
additional materials for the camber production need to be transported to
the site. The excavated materials may not be enough or of poor quality.
The set of drawing2 below present a methodology to produce the camber.
Note that precise production of the camber depends on the compaction
methodology, terrace level with regard to original ground level and soil

Andersson, Beusch and Miles: Road Maintenance and Regravelling using Labour-Based Methods,

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Presented drawings were first published in “Road Maintenance and Regravelling (ROMAR) using labour-
based methods Handbook”, Cleas-Axel Andersson, Andreas Beusch and Derek Miles, ILO 1996.

Compaction is a vital part of road construction. Efficient
compaction makes it possible to substantially improve the bearing
capacity and stability of a fill, to increase the impermeability and,
in most cases, to practically eliminate settlement. Consequently,
compaction makes the soil sufficiently stable to withstand
permanent loads and traffic, so maintenance costs are greatly
reduced. Compaction costs represent only a comparatively small
share of the total construction costs, normally less than 5%. The
compaction criteria are deduced from the Proctor curve, which is
determined by either the Standard or the Modified Proctor test.
This curve shows the relationship between the dry density and the
moisture content.
With a given amount of compaction each soil has an "optimum moisture
content" at which a maximum dry density is obtained. The compaction
energy used in the Modified Proctor test is 4.5 times larger than in the
Standard Proctor test, which results in the maximum dry density being 5 to
10% higher than obtained with the Standard Proctor test.
For rural roads compaction can be specified in terms of values of dry
density varying between maximum dry density of Standard Proctor and
that of Modified Proctor tests. Accordingly, the variation of moisture
content is specified at approximately the optimum value.
The average Proctor curves are all rather similar in shape. Generally
speaking, a flat curve denotes a closely graded soil, and a curve with a
pronounced peak denotes a well-graded soil. On the right-hand side all the
curves approach the saturation line and the peaks all occur at an air void
content of approximately 5%.

In the field, soils are compacted by applying energy in one of three ways,
which are, in order of duration of the stresses which they apply:
• Pressure (rolling)
• Impact (ramming)
• Vibration.

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The types of compaction equipment that are available can be listed under
these three headings as follows:
Rollers: Smooth-wheel, pneumatic-tyre, or sheep foot rollers, lorries,
pneumatic-tyre construction machinery and track-laying vehicles.
Rammers: Dropping weight (including piling equipment), internal
combustion type and pneumatic type.
Vibrators: Out-of-balance weight type and pulsating hydraulic type
(mounted on screeds, plates or rollers).

In general, smooth-wheel rollers are most suited for crushed rock,

hardcore, mechanically stable gravel and sands; pneumatic-tyre rollers for
closely graded sands and fine-grained cohesive soils at a moisture content
approaching the plastic limit; and sheep foot rollers for fine-grained
cohesive soils at moisture contents from 7 to 12% below the plastic limit.
Heavy vibrating rollers compact the surface not very well, therefore often
the last passes are done with dead-weight rollers. Dead weight rollers are
also more appropriate in cohesive soils.
The dry density of compacted soil decreases with depth as the thickness of
the layer compacted is increased. With normal compaction equipment, this
reduction is not very great up to a loose thickness of about 20-cm, but
above 25 cm it is considerable. When thinner layers are used, the
entrapped air can be driven out much more easily with a smaller amount of
compaction energy.
The usual method of measuring compaction in the field is to determine the
dry density of the compacted soil in-situ. The sand-replacement method
and the rubber-balloon method are the most widely applied methods. The
procedure in both cases is to determine the weight and moisture content of
soil removed from an approximately cylindrical cavity, whose volume is
then measured. The rubber-balloon method is faster than the sand-
replacement method and it generally gives a somewhat more accurate

Hand rammers Hand rammers are normally used for compaction fairly restricted areas
particularly those inaccessible to plant. If it is not possible to transport
compaction plant to the construction site the gang of labourers equipped
with hand rammers can be positioned to cover the width of the formation.
Effective compaction is possible if the material layers are restricted to a
maximum of 100-150 mm.

Power rammers Power rammer: Even relatively light power rammers can produce a high
degree of compaction either by using a small area rammer of a relatively
fast stroke. Power rammers and falling weight compactors produce great
compactive effort at depth, but have an inherently low output. They are
used on all types of soil usually for reinstatement of trenches and
compaction in confined area such as bridge abutment.

Light vibrating Vibrating plate of less than 450 kg is only suitable for granular soils.
equipment Heavier compactors are suitable for most other soils with the exception of
heavy clays.

Vibrating rollers, less than 2 tons are only suitable for granular soils.
Heavier compactors are suitable for most other soils with the exception of
uniformly grade sand. In general a vibrating roller will compact to a greater

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depth and to higher degree than a much heavier dead-weight roller.

Heavy vibrating rollers do not compact the surface very well, therefore it is
recommended to do last passes with a dead weight roller. Towed vibrating
rollers affect the surface in a negative way and have less compaction
density to deeper parts of the layer. Driven vibrating rollers result in a
deeper compaction and result in a smooth surface.

Work procedure To produce a good quality road, it is important that all soils are properly
compacted. Compaction should be carried out along the road line starting
at the shoulder of the road and gradually working towards the centre line.
Appendix 1 presents production norms of light equipment items.


Soil stabilisation offers one of the best forms of base or sub-base and
surfacing for road construction in tropical and sub-tropical countries. A
wide variety of soils may be used. The soil can be stabilised either
mechanically or chemically.
Mechanical stabilisation consists of mixing two differently graded soils in
order to obtain a well-graded and therefore more suitable road aggregate.
The mixing procedure is done at a mixing plant and is almost
impracticable by hand. Chemical stabilisation makes use of admixtures or
binding agents. The mixing procedure is very easy to do by hand and is
therefore widely applied.
In the majority of cases of chemical stabilisation, cement, lime, or
bituminous products are used as binders. The bearing capacity of
stabilised soil is determined with the unconfined compressive strength
test, as described in TRIZIL (1957). Cement is used to stabilise a wide
variety of soils, but preferably for course-grained materials. Well-graded
soils with maximum 15 to 35% of silt and clay give the best result.
With lime stabilisation, clay minerals are necessary for a chemical reaction
with the soil. The proportion of cement or lime is normally between 3 and
7% by weight of the dry soil. Bitumen is used mostly to stabilise sandy
The mix-in method The mix-in-place method is possible with various types of implement. The
primary requirement is to achieve an even mixing of the correct
proportions of soil and stabiliser. Soil stabilisation is seldom an entirely
manual operation because of the difficulty of ensuring an even distribution
of the stabiliser throughout the soil. The same difficulty limits the
usefulness of graders and some types of agricultural equipment.

To mix soil and stabiliser thoroughly it is often necessary to break the

former down into a fine tilt.

Pulverisation With enough passes animal drawn rotary and disc harrows and the
tractor-drawn discs harrow will produce the required degree of
pulverisation, but they are designed mainly to reduce the soil lumps on
the surface only and their depth of penetration is limited. The tractor-
powered devices operate at a faster rate and produce a greater depth of
penetration than those drawn by animals.
The various types of rotavator are designed to produce a high degree of
pulverisation in relatively few passes. Those mounted on four wheeled
tractors operate at a faster rate, and produce a greater depth of

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penetration, than those powered by single axle tractors.

The most recent development has been the tractor-mounted rotary
harrow with the soil contacting components attached to a vertical shaft.
The vertical rotors are directly followed by a crumbler roller, which not
only packs the tilt evenly, but also controls the harrowing depth. The
performance of the rotary harrows for soil stabilisation has not been
evaluated, but should be similar to that of a rotavator.

In mix-in-place stabilisation with cement or lime the stabiliser can be

spread on the loose soil either by hand or by a mechanical spreader. To
obtain an even distribution when spreading cement or lime stabiliser by
manual methods requires strict continuous supervision. When stabilising
soils with cement or lime it is usually necessary to add water to the
pulverised soil to bring it to the correct moisture content for compaction
and provide adequate water for hydration. The water is sprayed on to the
loose soil with water bowsers in mix-in-place operations. However, most
purpose-made mix-in-place pulvimixers have provision for adding an
accurately controlled amount of water through a metering pump and
spray bar. Similar spray bars are used for adding the bitumen when the
mix-in-place method is employed for bituminous stabilisation. Thus mix-
in-place bituminous stabilisation is only possible where low viscosity
binders, i.e. cut backs or emulsions, are available.
The compaction and shaping of stabilised road bases is carried out with
normal plant. Soil- bitumen mixtures are compacted most effectively by
the kneading action of rubber or pneumatic-tyre rollers.

Manual operation If spreading of the stabiliser is to be done manually then the boundaries
of the area to be stabilised should be set out using pegs and string lines
with suitable permanent reference marks placed well clear of the area
being processed. Then the bags of cement or lime should be placed at
predetermined intervals in a number of longitudinal rows. The positioning
of each bag is such that its contents are the correct amount required for
the depth of soil layer to be stabilised and the surrounding square area.
The bags are split open and the stabiliser raked and shovelled or hoed
uniformly over the area being processed.
If mixing is to be carried out manually this should be done by first dividing
the soil, spread with stabiliser, into convenient areas of a few square
metres. Labour should then be instructed to collect the enclosed material
into a heap, which is then turned with a shovel or hoe, and re-spread.
Studies in India show that if the material is heaped and turned a minimum
of four times, 70-75 per cent of the strength obtained with machine
rotavating can be achieved. Mixing more than four times will further
increase the soil strength.


Concrete is a mixture of aggregate, sand, cement and water.
Impurities All sands contain a percentage of impurities. It is inevitable and a
maximum of 5 percent of silt can be allowed. However sand used in
reinforced concrete should not contain particles of shell or coal residues,
which have a corrosive effect on the reinforcement. The sand is often
found in rivers. It should be smaller than 7 mm and therefore is should be
sieved on a sieve of 80x150 cm with a wire mesh of 7 mm diameter. The

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steeper the sieve is held, the finer the sand will be. Heavy weight sand in
generally is more suitable for concrete construction.
Cement bags Cement (bags) should be stored in a dry room on a raised wooden
platform approx. 20 cm above ground level and not less 30 cm away from
the walls and roof. Air circulation should be avoided by placing the bags
close to each other and make the storage place airtight. The maximum
amount of bags to be stapled on top of each other is seven or eight.
Water Water must be clean and do not contain salt. Dirty water should be stored
in drums and allowed to settle before it can be used for mixing. The
amount of water should be the minimum necessary for sufficient
Hand- versus machine When concrete is mixed by hand it requires more water than when it is
mixing mixed by machines, respectively 19 and 16 litres per bag of cement.

4.5.1 Concrete Pavements

The success of the construction of concrete pavements depend mainly on
five criteria:
1. The roughness or smoothness of the sub-base
2. Planning and implementation of the formwork
3. Compacting of the concrete
4. Roughening of the surface
5. Curing process
Smooth sub-bases save a lot of expensive concrete. It is also easier to
ensure that the pavement itself will be smooth if the sub-base is smooth.
Often projects spend too much on their formwork. By proper planning
implementer of the project can save considerable amount of money.
The concrete can be compacted by a vibrator or with wooden tamping
beam. The tamping beam is a beam of 75 mm wide, 225 mm deep and
the length equal the width of the section plus 300 mm. The underside of
the beam has a metal plate. By using a back and forward sawing
movement in combination with series of lifts and drops of 1 cm each the
concrete is compacted. The concrete is sufficiently compacted when the
mortar mix begins to work up the surface.

Source: M. Allal and G.A. Edmonds: Manual on the Planning of Labour-Intensive Road
Construction, 1977, ILO
Brooming with a stiff fibre brush ideally roughens the surface.
It is important to ensure proper curing of the pavement. Curing requires
moist concrete and therefore it is recommendable to cover the pavement
with bags, sand or water. After the curing period the top 75 mm of the
expansion joints between the sections are filled with bitumen.


TRL published a manual on labour-based construction of bituminous

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surfacing on low-volume roads. The document can be downloaded from

the following web address:


Culverts of concrete pipes give passage to water under roads or other
obstructions. On condition that the pipes are laid correctly this type of
culvert is very reliable and cheaper than box culverts and bridges.

Pipes should be placed level and should have and internal diameter of 0.4
m or more. Smaller pipes block up easily. Above the crown of the pipe a
soil cover is needed to spread the concentrated forces by trucks and carts.
The thickness of the cover should at least be 0.4 m or 0.75*Diameter,
whatever is higher. In countries where the soil cover will be frozen during
the winter, the minimum soil cover is at least 1 m or 0.75*Diameter.
To avoid erosion under the exit of the culvert, the invert of the pipe is
placed at least 0.1 D, maximum 0.5 D below the downstream canal bed.
Some sedimentation in the pipe is normal and can be allowed. The flow
capacity should be based on the reduced cross section. In earth canals the
flow velocity in the pipes should be limited to 1.7 times the permissible
canal velocity.3

It is important not to raise the level of the road at the location of the
culvert. When a (part) of the culvert is laid above the level of the
surrounding road, the changes are that excess water will overtop the road.
The flow section of the culvert is reduced considerably. Furthermore this
type of construction results in additional tensions within the pavement,
often resulting in damages. The level of the pavement above bridges may
be raised to create the necessary headroom, when the channel operates
as a fairway.

Foundation In most cases the pipes are laid directly in the undisturbed soil. However
when the soil is to weak it may be necessary to construct a foundation,
like reinforced concrete slabs, or a piled foundation.

T.K.E. Meijer: Design of Smallholders’ Irrigation Systems, Wageningen Agricultural University, 1993.

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Nowadays most
concrete pipes have
bell and spigot joints.

A conic shaped spigot

There are various techniques to make the joints impervious, but the use of
clay or mortar is not one of them. Both materials are not flexible and
easily crack to settings and temperature. The most common solution is the
use of rubber rings. The spigots are either conic shaped or contain a
Spigot with groove groove to fix the ring. Alternatively the bell may be conic shaped. The ring
is put at the very end of the spigot. While the spigot enters into the bell,
the rubber rings rolls into the groove or to the position where it is clamped
between the spigot and bell.

Furthermore, it is possible to use a sealant prepared of bitumen and

asbestos fibres. Some sealants require heating while others can be applied

A waterstop strip is also a bituminous product, but unlike sealants it is

solid. With aid of a burner it is sealed on the spigot and subsequently
made even more flexible after which the bell side is moved over the

It is also possible to put a strip of expanded polyurethane (plastic foam)

between the joints, after which the pipes are pushed together to close the

To protect the joints against damages it is possible to use a bandage of

jute drenched in bitumen or glass fibres.

The pipes should be placed in a trench that is cut after the excavation of
the drains. Preferably the whole trench is cut first prior the pipes are laid.
However due to traffic conditions, ground water conditions and limited
storage capacity of the soil it may be necessary to cut the trench in
piecemeal and lay just a few pipes at the time. However the latter method
is more difficult and requires extra attention during setting out.
The bed width of the trench is usually the pipe diameter plus 1 meter. The
pipe is laid in the middle. The extra meter allows workers to compact the
refill properly. Trenches often easily calve in. Therefore heavy equipment
and the materials should not be placed near the edges to the trench.

The edges of the concrete pipes break easily if they are not laid in the
exact same line (both horizontal and vertical directions). The workers
should therefore be experienced in this activity and appreciate that laying

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pipes is a time-consuming activity. Concrete culvert inlets are usually laid

after the laying of the pipes is completed. The inlet is moved over or in the
pipe, depending on the design of the inlet.

PVC pipes are more flexible, but their ends also easily break when the
workers push the pipes with to much pressure. The most common
construction method is to connect three pipes at the same time.


The following websites contain information about maintenance activities:
• http://www.transport-

Check this web site for more information on this subject.


4.10.1 Machine capacities

To obtain acceptable machine performances it is necessary to fulfil certain
prerequisites. These are:
• Availability of a good workshop with skilled mechanics;
• Good management;
• Availability of skilled operators;
• A continuous supply of spare parts, fuel and lubricants.
When one of these requirements is not met, machine work always leads to
disappointment and financial losses.
Factors governing Even when these requirements are fulfilled to capacity performances will
performance vary a great deal, depending on the circumstances. To arrive at the
capacity appraisal it will be first necessary to know the theoretical
capacity, which should then be corrected by numerous factors. To arrive at
the real capacity from the theoretical capacity, the following factors for
reduction have to be applied. They can be divided into non-controllable
and controllable factors.
The most dominant non-controllable factors are:
Non-controllable Climate. With extended freezing and rainy periods it is impossible to
factors maintain mechanical work performance at an acceptable level.
Soil. Climate and soil problems often occur at the same time. Clay soils in
wet periods result in muddy conditions and in less bearing capacity. Long
rainy periods can result in water logging and unworkable conditions. In
general, heavy clay requires more traction power than sandy soils.
Altitude. The higher the altitudes above sea level the thinner the air,
resulting in a lower engine performance. For every 100 m of additional
height a reduction of 1 -1.5% has to be applied. For altitudes up to 500 m
there are hardly any noticeable reductions in engine performance.
Topography. Flat and gently sloping areas make efficient work possible.

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Hilly and/or gullied areas result in a considerable reduction of work

Plot size. Small plots drastically reduce work efficiency. Depending on the
plot size and slope a reduction factor of 40% may have to be introduced.
Obstruction. Stumps, rock and hills, etc. may have to be reckoned with.
Visibility. Dust storms, rain, snow and fog will result in much lower
performances. Despite good lighting on the machines and a more
agreeable temperature (in the tropics) night work will reduce the work

Controllable factors The following factors can be controlled:

Machine and equipment capabilities. The selection of the right equipment
for the right job is of utmost importance. This is also true for the type of
machine and its capacity.
Work organisation. Proper planning, the right working method and a
proper organisation of the work is a prerequisite in order to achieve
acceptable work efficiency.
The operator. Skill, efficiency and motivation of the operator are probably
the most important controllable factors. A good operator should also be
able to avoid unnecessary mechanical breakdowns. Yet if an unavoidable
breakdown does occur he should notify the proper officials.
However, it has to be kept in mind that even the best operator can only
achieve a work efficiency of 50 minutes per hour, due to all kinds of minor
operating adjustments. Therefore, in many instances the theoretical
performance is defined as the working speed, times the working width,
times 5/6 (83%).
Machine and equipment availability. Availability means that a machine can
do the job when it has to be done. It is true that even a new engine can
break down, but as a machine depreciates the chances of a breakdown
increase. With regard to seasonal work a 90% machinery availability can
be realised. Also here it is generally assumed that the work efficiency will
Other factors In addition there are factors which do not fit in the above mentioned
Rest. During rest periods, sometimes required by law, the operator must
take care of his personal needs.
Starting and finishing. Every day certain delays occur in the starting and
finishing of the work; this can be observed in the workshop and in the
Maintenance. Daily maintenance has to take place; sometimes more
extensive maintenance work is also required. This influences the
availability and/or the hourly work performance.
In-field service. Every operation needs time for minor adjustments during
the work, thereby reducing the output.
Overlap. Mechanical operations always have a certain overlap, resulting in
lower performances than are theoretically possible.
Turning. Every mechanical operation requires turning room for the
machine and equipment. The reduction factor is more or less dependent on
the size and shape of the plot.
The performance reduction of these various factors is as follows:

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Item Range of reduction

Climate 1.00-0.75
Soil 1.00-0.80
Altitude 1.00-0.75
Topography 1.00-0.85
Plot size and turning 0.9-0.5
Visibility 1.00-0.80
Machine suitability 1.00-0.70
Work Organisation 1.00-0.70
Operator 1.00-0.50
Availability 0.80-0.40
Rest 0.95-0.85
Start and finish 0.97-0.90
Maintenance 1.00-0.85
Infield-service 0.98-0.90
Overlap 0.95-0.90

The reduction factors are multipliers of each other, resulting in a situation

where the total fleet of machines may have to be three to four times as
large as would follow from the theoretical capacity.
It has also to be kept in mind that the given list of reductions can be
changed, depending on local conditions. This could result in further
performance reductions.
In the following sections, capacities of machines will be given. One must
keep in mind that these performances are achieved under conditions having
certain requirements. On account of the reduction factors mentioned above,
the given capacities will have to be reduced in many countries by a factor
between 2 and 4.
Draglines Draglines are normally used for excavation of canals. They are available
with bucket sizes ranging from 400 to 2000 litres. A bucket size of 800
litres is frequently used. The production depends on the type of work, size
of canal and whether the excavated earth has to be loaded in vehicles or
can be dumped on the banks. If all other conditions are optimal it ranges
from about 30 M3/h for small machines to close to 200 M3 /h for large
machines. For the 800 litre bucket size the production ranges from 40 to
100 m3 /h.
Bulldozers Bulldozers are used for moving earth over not too large distances, not more
than 100 m for the smallest type to about 180 m for the heaviest types.
There are track-type and wheel type bulldozers.
Optimum production depends on type of machine and the distance the
earth has to be moved. It ranges for a D3 type bulldozer from 120 to 30 m3
/h for distances from 15 to 90 m. For a D1 0 type the range is from 2000 to
400 m3 /h for distances between 30 and 180 m
Scrapers Scrapers are used for moving earth over somewhat larger distances than is
practical with bulldozers. Scrapers are used for distances up to about 2000
m. The capacity of the machines available on the market ranges from 10
m3 to 25 m3. By heaping this capacity can be increased by about one-third.
The optimum production depends on the load time (0.5 to 1 minute), time
needed for unloading (0.7 minute) and the travel time (loaded and
On horizontal land the speed is about 1.5 minutes per km. Loaded or
unloaded does not make much difference. On sloping land the speed is

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reduced considerably; 4 minutes per km on 10% slope. The resistance of

the road surface further reduces these velocities.
Hydraulic excavators Hydraulic excavators are used for excavation of canals and trenches, and
are available with bucket sizes from 300 to 1500 litres. A bucket size of 700
litres is frequently used. As with draglines, optimum production depends on
the type of work, size of canal or trench, and whether the excavated
material has to be loaded on a vehicle or can be dumped freely. It ranges
from 30 m3 /h for small machines to 150 m3 /h for large machines. For the
700 litre bucket size the production ranges from 40 to 90 M3 /h
Loaders There are wheel loaders and track-type loaders. Both are used for loading
material (earth, sand, gravel, and rock) from a quarry stockpile onto
Track-type loaders are available with bucket sizes ranging from 1 to 5 m3,
while the bucket sizes of wheel loaders are up to 10 m3. Optimum
production of track-type loaders ranges from about 100 m3 /h for the 1 m3
bucket size to 600 m3 /h for the 5 m3 bucket size. For wheel loaders these
figures range from 100 m3 /h for the 1 m3 bucket size to 1000 m3 /h for
the 10 m3 bucket size.
Graders Graders are not normally used for moving earth. Their principal use in rural
development projects is for maintenance of earthen roads. Their production
is normally expressed in m2/h. Working width (blade base) is about 2.5 m.
Top speed is in the order of 40 km/h; working speed is considerably less.
Production in m2/h also depends on the number of passes required to do
the work as specified.
Appendix 2 presents for a number of activities the production norms for
activities carried out with equipment.
Land levelling with For earth-moving operations involving about 200 m3 /ha the following
bulldozers performance can be obtained
1200-1600 m2/h for a maximum transportation distance of 60 m. For 35-50
kW bulldozers the figures at the lower end of the scale apply, while for 65-
90 kW bulldozers the figures at the upper end of the scale apply. (Note: 1
kW -- 1.34 hp).
For earth-moving operations involving about 500 m3/ha:
1,000 m2/h with 65-90 kW bulldozers having a maximum transport distance
of 60 m.

By land plane (tractor plus implement)

1,000 M2 /h for minor earth-moving operations
Sub soiling Ripping and sub soiling activities with narrow tines and 'goose feet' mostly
have a working depth of about 80 cm. Greater depths require more power.
Depth kW Performance Machine
1 -00 m 120 0.25 ha/h 1D7
1.25 m 225 0.25 ha/h 1D8

Deep ploughing The following table indicates the furrow depths, the ploughing width, and
performance per hour, the kilowatts and the types of machines needed for
deep ploughing.

Furrow Ploughing Performance

Depth (cm) width (m) per hour (he) kW Machines
40 0.70 0.15-0.2 95-105 1 D 6c
40 1.00 0.15-0.2 185 2 D 6c
50 1.25 0.11-0.2 210-225 D6+1D7

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50 1.50 0.1-0.15 375-410 2D8

Mixing For mixing depths with a rotator up to 1 m, 185 kW is required, giving a

performance of 01-0.15 ha/h.

Data on productivity

norms labourers /techbrf2.pdf

INDEVELOPMENT; Labour-based Road Works


Many infrastructure agencies are, in contradiction to what you may expect,
not organised in a way that they select the most efficient production
technology or product. This chapter provides information to those agencies
that would like to develop their organisation towards a user of labour-based


More and more work is contracted out to the private sector all over the
world and in particular in Asia and Africa. Where civil works are to be
contracted out, clearly the line agencies should not only build up there own
capacity but also that of the consultants and more important the
contractors or community contractors. These partners need to be educated
in aspects of technology choice and labour-based execution of works.
Important for contractors is the availability of qualitative site-management-
and engineering staff. After all labour-based technology requires more
management and more preliminary design work.
Institutional development means also to build up the education and training
capacity in the country. Line agencies are often not willing to keep on
training engineers over and over and would expect universities,
polytechnics and vocational training centres to fulfil a demand for staff with
sufficient knowledge in labour-based technology. Unfortunately most
education organisations are not that market oriented and sufficient lobbying
from high officials is required, like permanent secretaries.
Unfortunately too many countries have adopted standard specifications and
contracting procedures that are constraining technology choice and
technology development unnecessary.
Technology choice and development, with an eye on efficiency, benefit of
performance specifications. Performance specifications do not specify the
construction technology, but actually specifies only the quality requirements
of the product. It goes without saying that it should be possible to carry out
all the necessary tests. If such tests cannot be carried out performance
specifications may not be applicable. It should also be noted that
specifications are management tools. In countries or situations with mature
(integer and qualified) contractors, the client would benefit most of
performance indicators. Not only do contractors have the most accurate
information on technologies and costs, but also do they have all the
incentives to produce the required products against the lowest possible
costs. In countries where such contractors are insufficiently forthcoming,
the client could adopt specifications that describe the production
technology. The standard specifications however should describe the whole
range of technologies and not only the mechanised version. The contract
itself could indicate which technology should be implemented.
Not only the specifications can hamper free technology choice. Contractors
have to register themselves and are often classified into groups. For each
group standards have been set with regard to turn over, manpower,
experience and unfortunately also equipment. Often these requirements
with regards to equipment include items, which favours equipment-based
construction, like bulldozers and graders. Once invested in these equipment

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items, contractors shall utilise these equipment items, after all if not used
they are still deteriorating. It should be noted in this context that in high-
income countries most large contractors rent most of their equipment on
project-to-project basis.
The works themselves are usually also divided in groups. These groups
relate to the classes of the contractors. Thus class A contractors can bid for
class A works, class B contractors for class B works, etc.
Because smaller contractors have not yet invested in large equipment fleets
they have more freedom to select to most efficient and appropriate
technology. In quite a few countries, small contractors can form a joint
venture on project-to-project basis and tender for larger sized works than
their original class. Such organisational freedom tends to favour labour-
based technology.


The first step, infrastructure agencies usually want to take is to test the
technology. Labour-based technology may be unknown or the agency is no
longer experienced with this technology. Therefore they usually undertake a
Project type The project type can highly influence the technology choice. Certain
products can only be produced in a limited number of ways. In some cases
there is no other option than to use a technology with a high capital/labour
ratio, like underwater excavation, deep pile driving and high quality
pavement surfacing.

Availability of Although it may sound very obvious but a labour based project can be only
labourers successful if labourers can be attracted to work on the site. Therefore is
necessary to make an estimate of the most likely supply of labourers. The
supply may fluctuate over the seasons. In particular in the agricultural
areas the supply may decline due to the labour requirements in the
agricultural peak seasons. In Muslim countries in the month of fasting,
Ramadan, it may be very difficult to motivate labourers to do hard work.
Another aspect to take into account during the project formulation stage is
the issue of labour migration.
Statistics Additionally shortcomings in statistical data about individual and household
incomes, actual hours of work already occupied, and demand for additional
income are usually lacking.
Deployable surplus However deployable surplus labour is often visible through:
labour 1. Registration of the unemployed
2. Visible unemployed persons during site visit
3. People employed in establishment with very low productivity
4. Surplus of new entrants into the labour market over persons leaving
labour market.
If the pilot project is evaluated positively the agency could start with
formulating a strategy to develop the organisation in the labour-based

5.2.1 Inputs
Reference materials To allow engineers to make technology choices they require reference data
on costs, production norms, expected lives of products, etc. The agency can
either buy all this information, or assign a certain section of its manpower
to gather and present this information.

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Allocation of time and As stated earlier in this document to increase the efficiency of the total
funds product, the agency has to allocate more time and budget during the design
and preparation stages of the project. After all it is in these stages that the
decisions have high impacts on the cost of the products. Furthermore the
required amount of supervision seems to correlate with labour/capital ratio
of the technology. Thus in other words more time and funds should be
allocated when production technologies require high labour inputs.
Equipment, tools Labour-based technology usually uses a lot of tools with certain forms of
equipment. When however the market does not provide these tools and
equipment, they can obviously not be used. The agency could consider
setting up hire and purchase units. These units of course have to operate as
independent private enterprises. Thus they should aim to break even within
the lives of the equipment and tools.

5.2.2 Culture
The culture of an organisation is defined as the shared values and norms of
people in the organisation. It is important that the employees are taught
how they are expected to think and behave within the organisation and in
this case with regard to the subjects technology choice and labour-based

5.2.3 Systems
The aspect of systems compromises the internal processes that regulate the
functioning of the organisation. It is a set of agreements that aims to
regulate the activities of management and staff with one or more related
organisational processes, like imbedding technology choice.
Control processes An important process is the control on the process technology choice.
Decision taking, monitoring and providing feedback all these processes
need to be arranged. However the control should not lead to a lame
organisation. The best approach is control afterwards through internal
accounting processes. If it appears the procedures where not obeyed,
sanctions will follow.

5.2.4 Staff
The component staff refers to all activities, rules and regulations related to
staff motivation and utilisation and development of staff capacity.
Training As technology choice and labour-based technology are fairly new processes,
most of the staff most likely will require additional training on these

5.2.5 Relationship with the contractors

When the agency has the policy that it contracts out most of the works to
the private sector the question arises who should make the technology
choice. The overall aim to reduce the total costs and assures the quality of
the products.
In countries where contractors have abundant experience with labour-based
technology, the implementers of the works can best make the technology
choice. The contract procedures should therefore focus on fair changes for
all contractors without hampering the quality of the works. Smaller
contractors usually lack the capital to invest in heavy equipment and
therefore tend to use more labour-intensive technologies than the bigger

INDEVELOPMENT; Labour-based Road Works

contractors. The contractor procedures should enable the smaller

contractors to compete with the bigger contractors for the works. On
condition that the contractors are motivated and capable to deliver quality
product, the specifications are best performance orientated. This means
that the specifications are formulated in a way that quality will be
afterwards tested. The decision freedom for the contractor is the largest in
that case. If the agency is not particular sure about the motivation or
capability of the contractors it could still issue performance based
specifications but require a description of the proposed production
processes for their review.
In those countries where the contractors do not have abundant experience
with technology choice and labour based technology, it is unlikely that the
contractors are able to select the most efficient production technology.
Therefore the technology choice has to be made by the agency themselves.
The agency also needs to specify the production technology in the
specifications. The specifications describe the work methods to be used and
are more presented as detailed work manual than description of the
performance requirements.

INDEVELOPMENT; Labour-based Road Works


Type Width of Speed of rolling Number of Area compacted Depth of Output of Frequency (Hz)
compacted area (m/min) passes required per hour (m2) compacted layer compacted soil
(m) (mm) per hour (m3)

100 kg power 0.05 m2 60 blows/min 6 blows 25 150 3.8 0.7-1.5

55 kg vibrating 0.28 5 3 23 100 2.3 0.2-0.4
75 kg vibrating 0.28 12 4 42 150 6.3 0.2-0.4
100 kg vibrating 0.4 8 3 53 200 11 0.2-0.4
200kg vibrating 0.38 10 3 63 150 9.5 15-100
plate compactor
450kg vibrating 0.61 20 12 51 130 6.6 15-100
plate compactor
660kg vibrating 0.61 15 4 110 200 22 15-100
plate compactor
700kg vibrating 0.61 15 2 230 150 35 15-100
plate compactor
200 kg vibrating 0.61 10 8 38 80 3.0
350 kg vibrating 0.71 20 12 59 150 8.9
1.0 tandem 0.81 20 4 200 150 30
vibrating roller
2.8 tonne smooth 1.30 50 8 410 130 53
wheeled roller
Table 1: Production norms light compaction equipment
(Source: Guide to tools and equipment for labour-based road construction)

Type of plant Compacted Speed of Number of Area Max. depth Output of
width (m) rolling passes compacted per compaction compacted
(m/min) required hour (sq.m/hr) layer soil per hour
8t smooth 1.78 50 4 1320 150 198
wheeled roller
13.5t grid 1.6 125 7 1715 200 343
roller with 60
kW track
laying tractor
13.5t grid 1.6 250 8 3000 200 600
roller with 112
kW wheeled
12t 2.08 50 4 1560 130 203
tired roller
46t 2.36 50 3 2360 250 590
tired roller
1.7t double 0.84 15 4 189 110 21
3.8t towed 1.83 40 6 730 250 180
7.7t self- 1.83 80 6 1460 150 220
12t towed 2.08 40 3 1660 300 498
2t vibrating 0.86 10 2 258 300 77

Table 2: Production norms heavy compaction equipment

(Source: World Bank; Labour-based construction Programs, 1983)
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Production norms (M3/hour) for hauling trucks with capacity of 3 m3 for transport of

Distance in meters
Soil condition 100 200 300 400 500
Poor 9 8 6.25 5.2 5
Medium 14 12.5 10.6 8.9 8.0
Good 17.6 17.0 14.3 12.9 12.5

Production norms (M3/hour) for dumpers with capacity of 3 m3 for transport of grassland.

Distance in meters
Soil condition 100 200 300 400 500
Poor 11.5 7.6 6.25 5 3.8
Medium 15 11.25 8.8 7.6 7
Good 20 15.7 12.8 11 10

Production norms (M3/hour) for dumpers with capacity of 1.75 m3 for transport of

Distance in meters
Soil condition 100 200 300 400 500
Poor 6.25 4.5 3.7 2.6 2.4
Medium 10 6.8 5.2 3.7 3
Good 13 9.1 7.2 5.9 5

Production norms (M3/hour) for Draglines excavating a layer with an equal depth and
loading it into a truck, tipper etc. Note if clay is excavated reduce capacity with 10%

Bucket capacity (litres)

Depth (meter) 400 500 600 700 800
0.2 32.3 36 42.4 43.2 49
0.4 35.5 42.5 48.2 52.6 57.4
0.6 38 45 53.2 57.6 63.2
0.8 40 47.5 55.5 61.2 67
1.0 40.5 48 57.5 63.7 68.5
1.2 41.5 49 58 65 70
1.4 42.4 50 58.5 66 71
1.6 42.5 51 59 67.5 71

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

Production norms (M3/hour) for Draglines excavating a layer with an equal depth and
putting it in depot etc. Note if clay is excavated reduce capacity with 10%

Bucket capacity (litres)

Depth (meter) 400 500 600 700 800
0.2 26.5 31 34 35.5 37.5
0.4 35.5 40 46 47.5 55
0.6 40 45 51.7 54 61
0.8 42.5 47.5 54 57.2 65
1.0 43 45 52.5 55 67.5
1.2 44.5 46.2 56 58 70
1.4 45 47.5 58 61 71.5
1.6 45 48.5 61.5 63.2 72

Production norms (M3/hour) for Draglines loading dumpers, tippers etc from a depot.
Note if clay is excavated reduce capacity with 10%

Bucket capacity (litres)

Volume per running meter 400 500 600 700 800
1 22.5 25.5
2 25 28.5 32
3 27.5 31.3 35.5
4 30 35 37.5 42 43
5 32 37.5 40 42 48
6 33.5 39 42 48 52.5
7 34.8 40 43.5 52 55.5
8 35.5 41 44 54.5 58

Production norms (M3/hour) for Draglines for transporting soil from a depot to another
depot. Note if clay is excavated reduce capacity with 10%

Bucket capacity (litres)

Volume per running meter 400 500 600 700 800
1 24 28
2 32 36 40
3 34 40 45
4 37 43 47.5 51.5 53.2
5 38 45.5 52.5 55 57.5
6 39.5 48 55 58 57.6
7 41 51 58 61.5 64
8 42.5 54 61 64 66

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

Production norms (M3/hour) for Draglines for excavating canals and put soil in a depot.
Note if clay is excavated reduce capacity with 10%
Bucket capacity (litres)
Volume per running meter 400 500 600 700 800
1 15 15.5
2 23 27 32.5
3 28 32.5 38
4 32.5 37 42 45 47.5
5 35 39 45.5 49 52.5
6 37.5 41 48 53 56.6
7 40 43 50 56 60
8 41 45 52.5 59 62.5

Production norms (M3/hour) for Draglines for excavating canals and loading of
dumpers/tippers. Note if clay is excavated reduce capacity with 10%
Bucket capacity (litres)
Volume per running meter 400 500 600 700 800
1 18.7 20
2 22.5 26.2 28.7
3 25 30 34
4 27.5 32.5 37.5 42 42.6
5 29 35 40 45 46
6 30 37.5 42.5 47 48
7 31 39 44 48 51
8 32 40 45 50 52.5

Production norms (M3/hour) for Draglines for widening/deepening canals and put soil in
a depot. Note if clay is excavated reduce capacity with 10%

Bucket capacity (litres)

Volume per running meter 400 500 600 700 800
1 12
2 20 22 23
3 25 28 31
4 29 33 37 40 42.5
5 33 38 40 42.5 45
6 35.5 40 42.5 50 52
7 37.5 42.5 47.5 54 55
8 38 45 50 57 58.5

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

Production norms (M3/hour) for Draglines for widening/deepening canals and loading of
tippers/dumpers. Note if clay is excavated reduce capacity with 10%
Bucket capacity (litres)
Volume per running meter 400 500 600 700 800
1 14.5 15
2 19.5 22 22.5
3 22.5 27 33
4 25 30 37 38 40
5 27.5 32.5 40 41.2 44
6 29 35 42 45 47
7 30 37 42.5 47 48
8 30.5 38 42.5 48 50

Production norms (M3/hour) for Mencken scraper-dozer.

Distance (m) D4+ 3.4m3 D6+ 5m3 D7+ 6.7m3 D8+ 7.5m3 D8+ 10m3
50 25 38 48 56 69
100 20 32 41 45 60
150 16 26.5 35 37.5 52
200 13 22 30 32.5 44.5
250 11 18 25.5 29.5 38
300 9.5 16 23 27 34
350 8.9 13 19 25 30
400 7.5 12 17 22.5 27.5
450 7.5 11 15 22 25

Production norms for bulldozers (Caterpillars) (M3/hour)

Distance (m) D6 D7 D8
25 100 125 170
50 60 75 115
75 45 55 85
100 35 45 68
125 26 35 55
150 20 26 45
175 1 20 39

Productivity data for excavation by hand (M3 /man-day)

Material Excavation loading at given loading
height (m)
0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0
Soft, very loose soil 6.5 5.5 4.5 3.7 3
Firm loss soil 4 3.7 3.25 2.8 2.4
Stiff/compact soil 3
Very stiff/dense soil 2.4
Hard/very dense soil 2
Soft rock 1.7

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches


INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches


The Himalayas is a relatively young mountain range. It covers countries like Bhutan, Nepal,
India, Pakistan and China and contains the highest peaks in the world. In addition to the white
peaks it also contain countless numbers of so-called hills. Many of these hills are higher than
2000 meters but are nonetheless considered hills. Population densities at high altitudes are
usually low but are of moderate level at the lower levels of the mountains. Most of the villages
in this mountain range are only connected through tracks with the outside world. The
governments and donors in this region make major efforts to reduce the isolation of the villages
and to connect them with a road network.

The mountain slopes of the Himalayas are known for its instability. The mountain range is the
result of two continental plates moving together. The movement is perhaps only a few
centimetres per year and run through a series of earthquakes. It is on these slopes that
governments and donors are trying to build roads. Many of the roads are characterised by
landslides and are often temporarily closed during parts of the year.

Over the years several techniques were developed to mitigate the risk of landslides. Nepal
developed extensive knowledge in bio-engineering to stabilise the slopes and furthermore it
developed a phased labour-based road construction method. This appendix provides a synopsis
of the latter.

One of the important design criteria of rural road construction in mountains or hills is balancing
of earth. Older techniques would cut and spoil the road in the slope of the mountain or hill. This
old technique has number of negative consequences, like:
• Damage of vegetation down hill
• Slope is more instable and risk of landslide is higher and the cost to reduce the risks
are considerable
• Loss of earth materials to build the road
• Clogging of irrigation canals and polluting other streams, affecting fish populations
• Etc.

This picture gives an example of mass balancing.

The so-called cut and fill techniques. Although it is
possible to carry out this technique with equipment
in many low and middle-income countries it is
usually cheaper to use more labour-intensive
techniques. The downhill part is build up with small
layers, of 15 to 20 cm. Every layer needs to be
properly compacted. The application of small
compacters is very useful for these kinds of

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

Often it is necessary to strengthen the fill side and

protect it against erosion. When the risks are of
moderate levels, it is only necessary to protect the
downhill against erosion, e.g. with a stone riprap. In
situations where the risk of collapsing downsides is
high it is necessary to strengthen its bearing
capacity. Dry stone retaining walls or gabions are
often applied techniques. Both dry stone retaining
walls and gabions allow excess groundwater to flow
out. If the excess water cannot flow out it will
weaken the structure and at the same time increase
the loading, possibly resulting in collapsing down
hill slope.

The kind of protection and strengthening measures depend on

a number of factors, like soil type, water content, width of the
road and expected traffic loading.

Below you find some rules of the thumb regarding selecting

slope protecting and supporting measures for low volume
Slope Action
Less 10º none
10-30º erosion control
30-45º retaining wall
45-55º gabions
More than 55º realign

On higher volume roads, it is recommendable to carry out

some geo-technical analysis.

Road departments in the Himalayas are constantly challenged by the instability of the slopes of
the mountain range. Furthermore they usually lack the financial capacity to maintain the
existing road network while providing connectivity to the road network.

To reduce the risk, the so-called phased road construction technology was developed. This
technology produces a low-volume road, but does so in four work phases over a number of
years. The technology is very labour-intensive. It is possible to rely heavily on natural

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

During the first phase, a footpath (track) is constructed along

the proposed alignment of the future road. The footpath is
not more than 1.25 meters wide, but allows passage of
bicycles and motorbikes. This phase is rather cheap and
allows easy modification of the alignment. Because the
proposed alignment is now visible it is possible to discuss the
alignment with the villagers, who may want some
modifications. Many villagers in rural areas are not able to
read maps and are therefore not able to contribute their
demands unless they can physically point them out.

It is also reviewing the quality of the slopes. If the slopes tend to collapse at this phase it is highly recommendable to realign
the proposed road.

During the second phase the confirmed alignment is widened

to an earthen track of about 2.5 meters wide. This track is not
yet motorable but allows all kinds of non-motorised
transport. The second phase test the slopes even further.

During the third phase the track is widened to the full width and all the support structures like
retaining walls and gabions are constructed. The temporary stone riprap is replaced.
During the third phase a decision has to be made about the camber direction, outward or inward
sloping? Although the camber is constructed during the fourth, inward sloping requires
additional drainage and therefore road width. Outward sloping is cheaper but less comfortable
and less safe for the traffic. The outward sloping roads therefore need to be closed for all
motorised traffic during the rainy season. During the fourth phase the road camber is shaped and

The result is an earthen road. During later activities it is possible to improve the quality of the
road by adding a gravel layer and protective measures at the hairpin bends, e.g. concreting of the

INDEVELOPMENT: Multi-Sector Planning Approaches

Phased road construction in the Himalayas has a number of positive characteristics:

• Create employment
• Reduce risk of land slides
• Allows for village participation in selection of alignment
• Provide low-cost access
• Provide improved access when roads are not affordable

Source pictures/drawings: Werner Paul Meyer; Green Roads in Nepal; Best Practices Report,