The in-use phase of the infrastructure life cycle is the longest phase of all.

This is where infrastructure is operated and maintained before being disposed of. Design typically represents 1-2% of the overall life cycle cost of a project, with construction accounting for approximately 6-18% of the cost. The remainder – 80-93% of the lifetime asset cost – is accounted for by operations, annual and capital maintenance and decommissioning. Infrastructure needs to be maintained so that it fulfils the function for which it was intended.

But it is in the in-use phase that so many infrastructure renewal projects fail. The causes are several fold, including factors such as choices of inappropriate technology, the lack of local, trained labour, the failure to consider or provide an adequate maintenance budget and the associated failure to consider how the infrastructure services are paid for and the community’s ability to pay for them.

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