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Tuesday , 16 April 2024

Critical Role of Consultants in designing WSA

Wayside amenities are a vital infrastructure development that not only enhance the comfort and safety of the passengers, but also create new revenue streams and monetization opportunities for the government, infrastructure developers and local communities, and foster an ecosystem for inclusive growth.

With this objective in mind, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway has published Policy Guidelines for Development of Wayside Amenities along National Highways in February 2021. It defines three design norms:

  1. Facility targeting cars /passengers,
  2. Facility targeting trucks / goods vehicles and
  3. Combined facility targeting both cars / passenger and trucks / goods vehicle.

Consultants have a multi-disciplinary and a critical role to play here.

Leveraging emerging technologies, the highways of tomorrow shall be digital corridors providing an opportunity to monetize new revenue streams for infrastructure developers, insights to government on future possibilities and safer & smarter travel experience to travellers. Wayside amenities are key infrastructure element to realize safer and seamless highways of tomorrow

Vivek Ogra,
Partner, Ernst & Young

 

Engaging with the government          

  • Designing apt policy, regulatory and governance frameworks with respect to development of Wayside amenities such that private investment can be mobilised, revenue sources can be improved, and better services can be extended to citizens.
  • Identification of sites, finalising type of amenities keeping in view road safety, tourism potential, traveller profile, key attractions, and unique regional offerings, etc such that the sites selected not only enhances road safety, reduces traveller fatigue but engages them in new exciting experiences as well as spur economic activity within the region.
  • Effective identification of land parcels, undertaking feasibility studies, assess revenue potential, project structuring and packaging as well as undertaking complete transaction advisory work starting from road shows to project tendering to bid process management to selection of concessionaire.
  • Understanding the requirements from information, compliance, monitoring and governance point of view, help concerned departments adopt tools and technology to ensure effective delivery. For example – a smartly designed data platform which acts as a one stop shop for Citizens, Investors, Concessionaires and Government to inform, interact, transact, govern, monitor and receive citizen/user feedback with respect to way side amenities projects. The initiative can also contribute towards Central government efforts of improving EoDB (Ease of Doing Business).
  • Provide program management support services assisting government departments with respect to inter-departmental co-ordination, interface with investors and concessionaires, monitor progress for projects under development as well as SLAs (Service Level Agreement) adherence with respect to operational projects and ensure compliance with respect to policy, regulatory and contractual guidelines.
  • Identify crucial spots which are not covered well from provision of emergency response services perspective and areas prone to number of accidents; ensure emergency response services are available round the clock. The assistance can range from identifying sites for location of emergency service providers such that emergency services are provided in first one hour of accident i.e., golden hour, ensuring requisite design provisions within way-side amenities, identifying partners as well as required equipment, providing procurement support, training, and capacity building as well as monitoring performance of service providers.
  • Assistance in the adoption of innovative features like setting up EV charging stations, drone landing facilities, surveillance and emergency response and smart infrastructure, requiring expertise in innovative technologies.

From Private sector point of view, Consultants can help investors in undertaking:

  1. Market assessment comprising understanding of industry structure, demand-supply dynamics, key demand drivers, regulatory framework and risks involved, competition scenario,
  2. Opportunity assessment and Bid advisory comprising
  • Assessment of revenue potential
  • Developing a project implementation structure
  • Assessment of risks and possible mitigants. This pertains but not limited to demand, cost, operational performance of the amenities, regulatory and legal aspects etc that may affect the project.
  • Advising on bid parameters such as annual rental, highest revenue share or both such that its win-win situation for both

As our Highways and Expressways convert into Economic Corridors, having high quality way side amenities is going to become critical. As highlighted in the 2023 edition of LEADS report, well planned parking and rest areas is a key requirement of the logistics sector as well. Therefore, developing appropriately designed and located way side amenities will not only enhance road passenger conform and safety; they will also enhance efficiency of our logistics ecosystem.

Mihir G. Shah,
Partner, Ernst & Young

Wayside amenities is a business which is highly underpenetrated in India. It is expected to grow exponentially on the back of expanded road network, a greater number of vehicles on the road, EV penetration and growth in tourism. A single wayside business has potential to employ 500 personnel for providing numerous services in addition to operation of different businesses.

Also, carefully planned wayside amenities at regular intervals improve ability of road agencies and police to respond to emergencies such as accidents, traffic congestion, road damages, unfavourable climate, law enforcement etc. Thus, improving safety, security, and convenience on the Highways.

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