Things developed quickly from there and we were involved in several attempts to take the next step to bring data entry down to the regional and district levels in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho and Mozambique. This proved difficult at the time as the technology and people’s familiarity with it were disparate. Hardware was not always available and electrical power to many districts and regions was fraught. This meant that the software systems remained mainly a centralised Headquarter (HQ) activity and regional data was still paper-based.
Together with many other players both in the private and public sectors, we continued our efforts to automate the data collection, planning and recording processes through the 1990s. It was clear that one major factor at the core of any road management system had to be the Road (Asset) inventory. With the paper-based systems, data would often come from the regions for roads that were not easily identifiable on the paper map and not in the paper-based list of roads. It became clear that the same road was identified in different ways by different authorities and different agents.
A big step forward in the development of RAMS came from our work in Ghana in the early noughties using GIS to fully map the regional road network to allow paper-based plans to be coordinated with digital maps. This culminated in a planning system based on the GIS inventory, traffic levels and road conditions to give a level of intervention and maintenance budget. A simple spreadsheet-based system, similar to HDM4 and RED of the World Bank but much simpler in operation and concept. Our software developers worked at the same time with other agencies and companies in Zambia (STROMAS), Tanzania (DROMAS) and Ethiopia to develop similar systems.
In the second half of the noughties, we managed to develop a rudimentary system that could enter inventory data, enter a district maintenance plan and track and report maintenance contracts and force account work and link all this to GIS-based road network. This was the first version of RMMS in Kenya that electronically linked district plans to HQ management systems. It was developed in cooperation with the district engineers in Nyanza province and was more easily adopted for general use. It was disseminated by the Kenya Roads Board (KRB) for use throughout the network and other road authorities and allowed them to receive data electronically for use in the HQ-based RMS that was already in place.
It was after this success in Kenya that we went on to develop an updated version of the DROMAS system (DROMAS 2) for Tanzania. Knowing the pitfalls and problems that have to be faced and the length of time it takes to have such a system disseminated and used, we were able to establish DROMAS 2 for the use of planning, contract tracking and reporting and linking to financial allocations so that both physical and financial progress can be tracked and reported accurately.
We have now further developed an in-house piece of software (ITT-RAMS) for road authorities that can be used at all levels and can be customised to suit the client’s options and intentions. Different modules, which can be tailored to the client’s needs, of ITT-RAMS are described below.