Showing posts with label Benzene International Pte Ltd. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Benzene International Pte Ltd. Show all posts

August 14, 2019

South Africa Spends on Road

Multi-billion rand upgrade programme planned KZN N2 and N3 interchanges

ECONOMY /  / 
The project which will take eight to ten years to complete is set to increase road safety, ease traffic flows as well as access to and from industrial areas. Photo: Supplied
DURBAN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that tenders to the value of R8.3bn for construction work in KwaZulu-Natal will be issued within the current financial year.
These tenders include seven major tenders on the N3 which will go out in the next three months once regulatory approvals have been received and land acquisition finalised.
The massive project which take eight to ten years to complete is set to increase road safety, ease traffic flows as well as access to and from industrial areas between these two major cities in KwaZulu-Natal.
It is part of a R40 billion two to three-year investment programme by the roads agency announced last week.
Some of the N2 interchanges that will be upgraded include Kingsway, Adams Road, The Higginson, Edwin Swales and Sibaya while the N3 interchanges that will upgraded include EB CLoete, Spine Road, Hammarsdale, Cato Ridge amongst others. 

The upgrade programme has been designed with the needs of road users in mind. The upgrades will make use of geometric design to optimise efficiency and safety. 
A total of 12 projects is expected for the N3 and N2 upgrades which will create around 23 500 direct job opportunities. 
Direct job opportunities are actual individuals per ID number on site based on SANRAL averages over time of 262 jobs per R100m project value. In the case of community projects, of which two (consisting of multiple packages) are planned in the province, 290 jobs on average.
"This excludes SANRAL’s continuous routine road maintenance as part of our robust preventative maintenance strategy aimed at taking care of the road assets we have," said Dumisani Nkabinde, SANRAL’s Eastern Region manager.
Treasury has allocated about R21.5 billion per year for the maintenance and improvement of SANRAL’s 19 262km non-toll network, including the national road network in KwaZulu-Natal.
A growing share of contracts will be allocated to black-owned construction companies and enterprises owned by women, the youth and the disabled. 
SANRAL has committed itself to the transformation of the construction and engineering sectors through the allocation of tenders to new entrants in these sectors.
Over the past six months SANRAL has brokered memorandums of understanding between emerging companies and major suppliers of construction equipment and machinery to give black-owned companies greater access to financing, expertise and the sophisticated equipment required to tender for larger contracts.
Dumisani Nkabinde, Regional Manager of SANRAL Eastern region, said: “The upgrades are part of Government’s rollout of Strategic Infrastructure Projects in line with the National Development Plan, specifically the Strategic Integrated Projects, of which the N2 and N3 upgrades are within the SIP2 program.  
"The N2 and N3 are not just roads - they are the epitome of empowerment and are essentially South Africa’s lifelines for the transportation of freight from Durban to Gauteng, the economic hub of the country," he added. 
According to SANRAL, the upgrade programme will have a traffic management plan that will protect construction workers and road users by safely conducting traffic around or through the areas where the construction will be taking place. 

May 31, 2019

Multi Model Transport

Riga Central station reconstruction contract awarded

30 May 2019
LATVIA: Design and build contracts for the reconstruction of Riga Central station as a multimodal transport hub with provision for 1 435 mm gauge services were signed on May 29 by Latvia’s Rail Baltica implementation agency Eiropas Dzelzceļa Līnijas and the Besix Rere Group.
EDzL selected the joint venture of Belgium’s Besix SA and local construction group Rere Buve SIA following an international tender launched in April 2017; this attracted seven expressions of interest, of which two were shortlisted to submit final bids in December. Besix Rere’s bid of €430·5m was significantly lower than the €545·5m from the ITL Rail Baltica grouping. The winning bidders have experience on similar projects, including the Brussels RER network and the reconstruction of Utrecht station.
Following an outline plan developed by PLH Arkitekter and Cowi, the existing 1 520 mm gauge line through the Latvian capital is to be reconstructed on an elevated alignment, along with the construction of 2·6 route-km of 1 435 mm gauge tracks. This would require six new road bridges and a 1 km bridge over the River Daugava which will include a pedestrian walkway and cycleway.
According to EDzL, the new station will be ‘compliant with modern requirements and aesthetically attractive’. The existing four island platforms will be replaced by five higher platforms to facilitate level boarding of both broad and standard gauge trains. Each platform will have stairs, escalators and lifts to improve accessibility, whilst a new 6 000m² concourse and waiting area will be built above the platforms. The multimodal transport hub will provide a new bus interchange and a multi-storey car park.
The work is to be undertaken in four phases. The completion of detailed design work is expected in 2021, with construction expected to begin in the second half of that year. To minimise disruption, work will start on the southern half of the project, with the northern part of the station area to be reconstructed once the first part of the new facilities are operational.
Construction of the elevated alignment will allow the removal of sections of the current railway embankment near the central bus station and Elizabetes Street, opening up ground-level connections between the old city and the suburb of Maskava.
Between 81% and 85% of the financing is expected to come from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility, with the remainder to be provided from Latvia’s national budget.

May 27, 2019

BOT- Built to Suck the Blood

NHAI eyes Rs 5,000 crore from roads bidding

To seek bids for roads under TOT plan in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu next month

NHAI, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Asset monetisation, Road auction, ToT, Macquarie Group, Brookfield Asset Management, IRB Infra, ROADIS, Cube Highways, Adani Infrastructure
The government will soon offer 550km of roads to private companies to operate and collect tolls, in a move to get cracking on an asset monetisation plan.
The National Highways Authority of India will seek bids for the roads under the toll-operate-transfer (TOT) plan in Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand next month, expecting to fetch about Rs 5,000 crore.
Details of the third round of auctions are expected to be finalised soon and bids will be invited in a month.
The government introduced the TOT model in 2016 to monetise publicly funded highways. Under the programme, investors make a one-time lump sum payment in return for long-term toll collection rights. The current TOT offers a 30-year lease.
The government is pursuing the TOT model to help raise resources in the sector and attract private funding, which has remained subdued. The first round of TOT auctions for 680 km of highways ended in February 2018.
It fetched the government over Rs 9,000 crore. The Macquarie Group won with a bid of Rs 9,681 crore against NHAI’s estimated value of Rs 6,258 crore. Brookfield Asset Management, IRB Infrastructure and Roadis-National Investment and Infrastructure Fund were among the other bidders.
However, the second auction was cancelled in February 2019 after it drew a lukewarm response. Cube Highways, a toll road operator backed by I Squared Capital and International Finance Corporation, bid Rs 4,612 crore against the base price of Rs 5,362 crore. Bids were also received from Adani Infrastructure and IRB Infrastructure in the auction. The expectations of bidders and the government in the second round did not match, the official said.
The NHAI expects the third round to succeed after making changes to the TOT framework to make it lucrative for the private sector.The NHAI expects the third round to succeed after making changes to the TOT framework to make it lucrative for the private sector. It had initially planned to re-bundle the 586 km stretches offered in Rajasthan, Gujarat, West Bengal and Bihar in the second round, but decided to offer fresh assets in the third round.
“We are coming out with new stretches… A decision will be taken later as to how to re-bundle TOT round 2,” an official said.
With the Bharatiya Janata Party government winning a second term, long-term institutional investors sense stability in the Indian market as a result of which better responses can be expected in the fresh round of auctions, said Vinayak Chatterjee, Chairman of Feedback Infra.
“It’s great to see NHAI coming up with fresh auctions in a short time. The roads ministry is setting a precedent in the asset monetisation plan of the government. I hope NHAI has learned from the first two rounds in setting the floor price this time,” Chatterjee said.
“We have taken all precautions that our initial estimated concession value (base price) is realistic and there are no issues, to a large extent, in these projects…. These should attract bidders,” the official said. The stretch to be offered in Tamil Nadu is “quite significant,” the official said. However, the official declined to share details because approvals are still being obtained.

Sourc

May 24, 2019

REDUCING LUST FOR LOANS


• The PPP model for the JKIA-Westlands Expressway is only one example of a growing trend for private companies to connect in Kenya.
• The PPP model encourages private companies to compete to build a better road for less money. It encourages competition and professionalism.
Road partnerships
Road partnerships
The national debt has gained a lot of coverage, especially in light of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to Beijing for the Belt and Road Initiative.
Many commentators expected Uhuru to sign an agreement to borrow Sh360 billion from China to extend the SGR, placing Kenya further in debt.
However, to the surprise of most outside of Uhuru’s inner circle, the paradigm has completely changed
Instead of asking for more money, Uhuru understands that a different approach is necessary.
Returning from China we learned that Uhuru’s great achievement was securing a public–private partnership (PPP) to build an 18km speed road — the JKIA-Westlands Expressway.
The road will be built and owned by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) and work is expected to begin in August. The Sh65 billion road starts at JKIA and ends at James Gichuru, along Waiyaki Road, in Westlands.
This deal is not just a game changer because it will be the first road of its type on the  African continent with underpasses, overpasses, exits and the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system lanes covering the entire stretch.
Nairobi traffic is notorious, among the worst globally, and the current JKIA-Westlands Road is a nightmare for anyone creeping bumper to bumper on it. The World Bank estimates that Nairobi’s traffic jams cost the country about Sh50 million daily in lost man-hours.
The four-lane super expressway will navigate downtown Nairobi, and ease the daily commute for many and ensure travellers to the airport no longer have to risk missing their flights because of traffic.
Most importantly, the PPP model shows a new strategy to build the infrastructure desperately needed without placing the nation further into debt.     
Under the PPP framework, private companies will build, maintain, and operate the roads. They then charge motorists to recoup their investment after which they transfer ownership of the roads to the government. It is a win-win situation for all.
Kenyans get their new roads and reduce traffic; private companies will make a profit for their work and the government will be able to remove an expensive necessity from its budget.
The PPP model for the JKIA-Westlands Expressway is only one example of a growing trend for private companies to connect Kenya.
Other roads to be built using the PPP model include the Nairobi-Mombasa expressway and the Nairobi-Mau Summit highway. The American firm Betchel will fund the Sh300 billion Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway, work is to start by June.
The Kenya National Highways Authority announced recently that it would soon declare the winner of Nairobi-Mau Summit highway bid.
The PPP model also encourages private companies to compete to build the better road for less money. It encourages competition and professionalism.
If a company wins a tender and builds a substandard road, it knows it can lose the tender and be barred from bidding in the future.
The reason so many high-level international firms are willing to put so much money into infrastructure is because Kenya is now an attractive investment hub.
Under President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya has greatly improved its ranking for ease of doing business. In 2018, Kenya rose to 61 from 80 in 2017, and 92 the year before. Kenya was also ranked seventh on the list of improvers globally.
This is vitally important because research released by the World Bank in 2012 indicated that a one per cent increase in the 'Doing Business' score amounts to $250 million to $500 million of foreign investment.
Uhuru has made Kenya an attractive investment destination and this has enabled him to move from the model of seeking  foreign loans to an improved model of PPP.
Temba is an adviser to Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa
Source- The Star

March 18, 2019

Urban Governance


Bengaluru’s Elevated Corridors: A case study in urban governance

ELEVATED CORRIDOR



The Government of Karnataka proposes a long network of elevated traffic corridors, totalling close to 90 kilometres in length, to alleviate congestion in Bengaluru, and recently floated a tender for the first phase of the project. This tender, and subsequent ones to follow, are on the basis of a detailed feasibility report commissioned by Karnataka Road Development Corporation and prepared by a trio of private consultants engaged for the purpose.
The report only mentions the construction cost of the project, which is over Rs. 19,000 crores. There have been press reports that claim once land acquisition and other costs are factored in, the total project cost could be close to Rs. 30,000 crores or more. This is an enormous sum of money, and one would assume that whoever proposes spending such a huge sum would exercise due diligence and enormous care to ensure that all aspects that warrant inclusion in the evaluation have been carefully considered. There is legitimate cause for concern when such proposals overlook many basic fundamental aspects.

Systemic concerns over the Elevated Corridor proposal

The focus here is not to comment so much on the proposal for the elevated corridor project, but to reflect on the quality of urban governance and planning if a proposal to spend thousands of crores can be put forward without detailed evaluation of issues such as those listed below.

Vision for the City

Cities cannot be reduced to quantitative or technical problems to be solved. They are sites of creativity that form the cutting edge of an economy: even though less than 35% of India’s population is urban, over 60% of her GDP comes from urban areas. Cities are dynamic cultural entities where the way people come together affects the vibrancy of the culture, economy and politics that take shape within the city.
Jane Jacobs, the eminent thinker on cities, had proposed that cities are truly vibrant when they have a buzz of pedestrians moving about at all times. Such cities are also far safer due to more ‘eyes on the street’. This will not happen by accident: it first requires a vision on the quality of life we want for the city, and then an urban design and planning strategy that works out the spatial form that will catalyse this quality of life. Clearly, a large network of megastructures of elevated corridors, casting huge shadows and spewing noise and pollution which will drive away certain land-uses, is not conducive to a vibrant pedestrian life. While some elevated transit structures may be unavoidable, they must always be evaluated and shaped by an overall urban vision. This proposal makes no such attempt.

The Institutional Framework for Urban Planning

The 74th Amendment to the Constitution of India came into effect in 1992 with the aim of granting recognition and autonomy to urban governance so that each municipality can function as a “vibrant democratic unit of self-government.” It stipulates that planning for a city the size of Bengaluru be undertaken only by a Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC), which should draw at least two-thirds of its strength from elected members of the municipality – a provision that aims to subject urban planning to democratic oversight within the municipality.
Bengaluru has been poor in conforming to this constitutional requirement. It constituted the MPC over twenty years after the amendment was enacted and bypassed the ‘self-government’ intent by granting chairmanship of the MPC to the Chief Minister of the state. The amendment is silent on how the MPC should develop the institutional capacity to perform urban planning, but it could be assumed that this capacity will be developed through building a qualified secretariat and an empanelled set of professional consultants. Bengaluru has not pushed the MPC in this direction, choosing to delegate all planning to the parastatal organisation that has conducted it so far: the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). Delegation to a parastatal is another diversion from the intent of empowering municipal self-government that the spirit of the 74th Amendment calls for (and it is significant to note that the project report for the elevated corridor project has been commissioned by another parastatal, and not by the BDA).
There is currently a public interest litigation being heard in the Karnataka High Court challenging this failure in conformance to the Constitution. In the course of this hearing, the court observed that the elevated corridor project has not been undertaken within the legally mandated institutional framework for urban planning and directed the government to cancel the tender floated for the first phase of construction of the project.
The project has also not followed the mandated procedure for public consultations on major development projects stipulated in the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act.

The Typology of Road Networks

Road networks cannot be evaluated solely with linear logic. Roads belong to a category of what philosophers have called ‘polycentric problems’, which means that any problem cannot be isolated to one spot in the network. The metaphor that best explains this is the spider’s web: one may tweak the tension in one single strand of the web, but this action and its results cannot be confined to the point of intervention. A change in tension in any single strand results in a redistribution of tension in the entire web.
In India, we have tended to view interventions in road networks as ‘monocentric’ problems, where we can isolate the problem and its solution to a single spot. For example, we observe congestion at a specific road junction and come up with the knee-jerk solution of a flyover at that junction to resolve congestion. We may find that after constructing that flyover we no longer see congestion at that junction and therefore believe our intervention to be successful. However, there may be another junction a few kilometres downstream of the traffic flow which, before the flyover was constructed, received a volume of ‘x’vehicles per minute and was able to handle this volume successfully. Once the upstream congestion is resolved, this junction now receives ‘3x’vehicles per minute, and it becomes congested. The flyover did not eliminate congestion: it merely redistributed it.
The elevated corridor cannot be seen as an isolated project and must be viewed in terms of the overall architecture of the road network. The corridors have a series of entry and exit ramps, and the impact these ramps have on the underlying road structure is insufficiently evaluated. Ashish Verma, Associate Professor of Transportation Systems Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science, predicts that these interfaces will cause fifty-three new spots of congestion in the city.
One has to look at the network as a whole, and particularly its typology and how one may alter it. Bengaluru has an overly radial pattern of roads, which overloads the city centre and causes a level of congestion that spreads outwards, with spill over impacts in peripheral areas. The strategy should be to relieve traffic flows from the restrictions of this radial emphasis through new concentric connections. This can be achieved through a mix of new roads (such as the proposed peripheral ring road) and modification and reclassification of existing roads. A case study that achieved this is Washington DC which in the late 1960s constructed a circumferential highway called the Capital Beltway. This was supplemented with area development plans that coordinated land-uses and secondary roads along this highway, resulting in a shift of commuting patterns so that the number of commuters moving concentrically far outnumbered those moving radially.
The elevated corridor project makes insufficient attempt to tackle the overall typology of Bengaluru’s road network, and to view it as a polycentric challenge.

Turbulence

It is falsely assumed that the only cause of traffic congestion is because of an overload of volume. This is not true in India, where a substantial degree of congestion results from turbulence in traffic flows caused by uneven road design standards. Imagine a water pipe whose width changed every few feet. Clearly water would not flow efficiently in such a pipe, and if one found a trickle upon opening the tap at the other end, this would be a result of turbulence in the system and may not be due to the average pipe diameter being too small for the desired flow rate.
We do not have consistent widths or standardised turn curvatures in the roads of Bengaluru (and most Indian cities), and the consequent turbulence is a significant cause of congestion. The relative role that turbulence and volume play in causing congestion is inadequately studied, but it should be noted that the project report justifies the proposal on elevated corridors by looking at congestion solely from the perspective of traffic volumes, making no attempt to comprehend the impact of turbulence in the system. Strategies to resolve turbulence require reclassification and modification of existing roads rather than adding new roads, and if turbulence is effectively dealt with, then the quantum of demand for new road space would come down drastically.
The fact that a reduction in turbulence can have an impact is proven by the TenderSure project implemented in the centre of Bengaluru. When the project was first proposed, doomsayers predicted that it would completely clog the city core, for traffic volumes were high and the proposal called for a reduction of traffic corridor widths in order to grant more space to pedestrians. But this never happened: despite reduced widths traffic continued to flow, for the project reduced turbulence through implementing systematic road standards.

Mixed-Mode Transport Strategies

The Government of India has developed a National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) that is published on the website of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. This document is offered as a baseline policy standard that can guide the development of transport strategies in every city. The document is acknowledged as a resource on the website of the Directorate of Urban Land Transport, Urban Development Department, Government of Karnataka.
One of the key objectives of the NUTP is to ensure that transport plans seek to serve the entire population and are not disproportionately oriented toward elite constituencies. A prime means of doing this is to aim at an allocation of road space on the basis of people rather than vehicles. This is not the current situation where buses carry far more daily passenger trips than private motorised vehicles, yet private vehicles occupy over 80% of the road space whereas buses occupy less than 5% (with this proportion falling further during peak hour traffic). Clearly a resolution of the transport problem can only be solved by a shift of prevailing modes from private to public transport. As the old adage goes, “A developed country is not one where everyone owns a car, but one where even the well-to-do use public transport.”
A strategy that seeks to primarily serve private vehicles is an elitist strategy as it serves only the upper economic segments of the population. The project report on elevated corridors continues this elitism by making all assessments of traffic volume using the measure of Passenger Car Units (PCU). All vehicles types are converted into PCU equivalents, and the comparative effectiveness of different transport modes is lost in the analysis.
If the goal of the NUTP of allocating road space on the basis of people rather than vehicles is to be achieved, then all transport proposals should occur within the context of a comprehensive strategy that examines all modes of transport, with an emphasis on public transit. The project report acknowledges that all modes of transport should be coordinated with the elevated corridors, but only recognises this at a general level and goes into the detailed calculations and designs for the elevated corridors without similarly detailed assessment on other modes and the relative weights to be assigned to each mode of transport. If a comprehensive policy analysis of all modes of transport were done in advance, the entire proposal for the elevated corridors would probably need substantial modification.
Given that the detailed designs on elevated corridors were rushed into the tendering stage, it appears that by the time any comprehensive multi-mode policy was evolved, the construction of these elevated corridors would be locked into place as a fait accompli, along with the concomitant distortions in the relative weightage of public versus private transport modes.

Land-Use and Transit

Urban transport cannot be looked at in isolation for it bears a strong connection with land-use. For example, a single-use zoning policy where every parcel of land can only be used for a single designated purpose (whether residential or commercial) will entail greater average distances between work and home when compared to a mixed-use zoning policy where a neighbourhood contains a judicious mix of residential and commercial uses. This is not to recommend that we only follow a mixed-use policy, but to make the point that the land-use strategy adopted can have a significant impact on loads on the transit system.
This is why transport design should always form a part of comprehensive master planning. The current proposal on elevated corridors has been done as a separate exercise disconnected from the preparation of the comprehensive development plan. The government did announce that the proposal will be incorporated into the new master plan for Bengaluru, but this will wind up as mere juxtaposition of the two: a superficial attempt at post-facto validation, which is a very different scenario from designing the proposal in simultaneous consonance with the master plan. The ‘rubber stamp’ intention is reflected in the decision to launch tenders for the first phase while the new master plan is yet to be finalised and released in the public domain.

Capacity Limits

Clearly, a strategy of responding to traffic congestion by increasing road space is bound to hit a point of diminishing returns. Traffic volumes will only increase, and the rate of yearly increase has gone up sharply in recent years. If we add road space for use of private vehicles, we incentivise the use of these vehicles and increase the rate at which traffic load is piled onto the road network. If our only strategic choice is to periodically increase road widths, we will either wind up with a city where roads take up so much space that building is no longer feasible or a dystopia where we are all condemned to live under the bleak shadow of elevated roads.
We have to move to a strategy that attempts a radical shift in the mix of modes of transport to avoid hitting these capacity limits. The elevated corridor project reflects a continuation of the old strategy of only increasing road space and makes no attempt to define where the point of diminishing returns may lie. In the 1960’s the German mathematician Dietrich Braess postulated in a theorem, subsequently named the Braess Paradox, that road systems can behave in funny ways. We tend to assume that increasing road space will lead to improved traffic flow, but it may paradoxically lead to an increase in average journey time. The project report does not name the Braess Paradox, but obliquely recognises it by acknowledging that the elevated corridors may incentivise road usage. While it asserts that many parts of the proposed system will serve traffic volumes beyond 2037, it surprisingly acknowledges that certain segments of the system will touch peak capacity by the base year of 2023. What happens after that, and the impact on the rest of the system, does not receive much attention.

Environment Impact and Approvals

The proposal will have a substantive environmental impact. It will not only change the look and feel of a major portion of the city but could have other significant impacts given that over 3700 trees need to be cut or transplanted, and some segments of the elevated corridors intervene into the area of existing lakes and heritage structures. The project report recognises that given the corridors are structures and not just roads they do have to undergo a stipulated process of statutory environmental approvals. The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority has very recently granted approval to the terms of reference of the project: the first stage in the environmental approval process. The details of how environmental impact is measured and mitigated is not publicly known as yet.

Tolls and Financial Viability

The financial viability of the project rests on collecting tolls for usage of the elevated corridors. But implementing this is not easy. The standard design solution for doing this is to construct toll plazas at the entrance into the toll corridor: in this case at the base of the entry and exit ramps to the elevated corridors. But in this project these highways are being inserted into densely built metropolitan areas, space is not available for toll plazas, and the report acknowledges that constructing toll plazas is not an available option. The alternative strategy is glossed over in a single line that states “toll collection by ERP is recommended.” This strategy is not explained, and its feasibility is not examined in the report. If an unorthodox strategy that avoids toll plazas turns out to be difficult to implement, tolls cannot be collected, and the entire financial viability of the project is thrown into question. There have been some statements made by the government that tolls will not be charged, but this is not yet confirmed, and if true the ultimate financial cost and how it will be managed is yet to be publicly disclosed.

Highway Shoulders and Resilience in Traffic Flow

The design of highways in India follows guidelines established by the Indian Roads Congress (IRC). These standards call for every highway to have a shoulder: a buffer space between the outer edge of the outer traffic lane and the boundary of the highway. Shoulders are not used on a routine basis. They provide the space for vehicles that need to pull over in case they are disabled or are involved in a fender-bender accident and need to stop to sort things out. Once this buffer space is available, such vehicles can stop without significantly affecting smooth traffic flow. Shoulders are also meant to provide a space where emergency vehicles (tow trucks, ambulances, fire tenders) can move to reach where needed. Shoulders build resilience into the continuity of traffic flow.
The project report on elevated corridors seeks to follow IRC standards, but notes one significant exception: due to the constraints on space within a metropolitan area, shoulders have been largely omitted. The impact of this decision on the resilience of the system is not studied.

Conclusion

The points noted above have come from a quick review of the elevated corridor proposal. A detailed study by people with greater expertise in the subject may yield even more. The point to be noted is that substantive lacunae can be observed even in a quick reading, and this is possible for a project that seeks to spend thousands of crores, which will have a substantive impact on the look and feel of the city, where it was sought to release tenders for the first phase in a tremendous hurry.
This is a symbol of the poor institutional capacity we have built in India for urban planning and governance. This is even more important at this point in history, for we are in India’s urban century where for the first time in history we will have a majority urban population (projected to happen around the middle of this century). The future of the country depends on the depth and creativity with which we imagine the Indian city, and Bengaluru’s elevated corridor project is not an encouraging sign.
Prem Chandavarkar is a practicing architect and blogger on architecture, urbanism, politics, philosophy, culture and education. 

March 15, 2019

Road Tender Fight

End tender fight for road project

litigation
We don’t need litigation. We badly need that road. FILE PHOTO | NMG 
Two international investors are engaged in what promises to be an explosive battle over the lucrative $1 billion contract for building of the 175 kilometre Nairobi-Nakuru- Mau Summit Highway under the so called Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal.
On one corner of the ring is a consortium led by French group Vinci Meridian and on the other a consortium led by a Portuguese group that also includes French players, dubbed Rift Valley Connect (RVC).
Already, RVC- on being informed that the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has decided to give the contract to their competitors - has moved to lodge a complaint with the Public Private Partnership Petition Committee, the entity that listens to grievances lodged by parties who feel cheated.
It is not a good sign at all because this matter may drag in litigation and contestation for months. If I were asked to mention the greatest drawback to implementation of PPP projects in Kenya I would say delays from unending litigation.
The situation has been made worse by inbuilt weaknesses in a procurement regime and system that puts too much emphasis on too many inane rules, procedures, documentation and notices.
With the emphasis on process, rather than bigger issue of public interest such as value for money and the fact that we badly need a new road through the most important transport corridor in East Africa, it is very easy for the contracting authority or even the competing contractors to commit slip ups and lapses in the interpretation of rules.
Instructively, the major cause in the current dispute is a mundane disagreement over the interpretation of income tax laws.
That since both consortia - in preparing their financial bids- contravened the Income Tax Act of Kenya, the two bids should have been rejected. I do not want to discuss the merits or demerits of the matter because the issue is now before a tribunal.
But there are broader policy questions that this dispute raises. If you asked me, I will tell you that what I want are PPP procurement systems that work for Kenyans. The present regime was designed so that we spend taxpayers’ money paying the army of consultants that must be hired for these transactions.
And, they come in different shapes. Transaction advisers, PPP specialists and even the big audit firms all queue at the Exchequer’s trough.
I hope that this important project will not be held hostage by unending litigation. Under the present arrangement, the PPP tribunal must dispose of the dispute in 10 days.
In litigious Kenya, it does not work. A good procurement system must deliver speed, finality and cheapness. But we have an arrangement that works like a casino.
When – as a contractor- you lose at the PPP tribunal- you double your stakes and take your case to the High Court. When you lose there, you triple your stakes and escalate the matter to the Court of Appeal. A number of PPP projects have not been able to move after intervention by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission that is also not famous for disposing of matters expeditiously.
If the disappointed contractor still ends up losing in all these players, they have the leeway of sponsoring parliamentary inquiries. In Kenya, some disappointed contractors resort to sponsoring civil society organisations and non- state actors to litigate over procurement matters on their behalf.
One of the very first cases to be heard by the PPP tribunal was a case filed by Kituo Cha Sheria, challenging the constitutionality of the appointment of members of the tribunal. It was no coincidence that this matter came up just as the PPP tribunal was preparing to hear what turned out to be a politically explosive concessioning of the second container terminal at the Mombasa Port.
The Northern Corridor is the busiest and most important highway in East and Central Africa, the gateway from Mombasa to several countries. If I were the one making decisions, I would call the two winning bidders to a conference and see whether they can reach some form of accommodation. We don’t need litigation. We badly need that road.