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Monday , 8 April 2024

National Highways: The Transformative Role of Wayside Amenities

India, today, is at a very strategic inflexion point of greater economic prosperity. India’s journey on the path of economic reforms has transformed it to one of the world’s fastest growing large economies where Infrastructure has been one of the cornerstones in the development. The ‘New India’ has an evolved outlook towards infrastructure development in the country under the leadership of our Prime Minister and Minister of Road Transport and Highways. One of the strategies is to provide Wayside Amenities on highways and expressways facilitating fatigue free commute and road safety.

Great highways need great amenities to sustain commuter traffic on roads. As a part of an endeavor to provide world class infrastructure and related services in India, National Highway Authority of India ‘NHAI’ intends to develop highways, logistic parks, traveller facilities at self-owned properties and their prestigious projects include Bharatmala Prayojana, The Golden Quadrilateral, Wayside Amenities (WSA). These infrastructure projects in India provide excellent opportunities with Public Private Partnerships (PPP) identified as the most suitable mode for implementation and funding of most infrastructure projects in the country. Under Bharatmala Pariyojana project construction of 34800km of roads and expressways with an outlay of `5,35,500 crore is envisaged.

As of 2023, India’s road network became the world’s second largest, after the United States. The proposal and mission for WSA is to provide modern amenities on highways, distributed geographically, to crores of highway commuters / travellers, as a nation building initiative.

Development of WSA has been entrusted by National Highway Authority of India to its subsidiary company/100 % owner SPV- National Highway Logistics Management Limited (NHLML). The initiative is to award more than 1000 wayside amenities on prime locations along the lengths of National Highways at every 50kms so as to make travelling a more enjoyable experience. These would be developed on a lease based PPP model, where the responsibilty for land limited permissions and supervision would lie with the authorities and development, operation and maintenance for 15-30 years would be the responsibility of the private partner. Minister Nitin Gadkari has invited investors, developers, restaurateurs and amenity operators to participate in the NHAI initiative.

Wayside amenities development along the highways and expressways in India has the potential to boost tourism and improve local economy. Food & beverage joints, fuel outlets, medical clinics, garages, motels, dormitories, toilets, parking, electric charging stations, public conveniences and other commuter friendly services like drive-through food pick up points will support small businesses, create jobs and give a big fillip to the local economy. Separate facilities for truck drivers are also planned, and commuters will possibly see a drop in road fatalities due to fatigue, which will give them the confidence of stress-free travel with maximum safety.

Other than the mandatory facilities, a separate section for car passengers will also provide restaurants, rest rooms, convenience store, and children’s play area. The amenities for truckers would have dormitories, dhabas, shops, toilets, drinking water, truck parking, self laundry, cooking facility and vehicle repair shop etc.

The overall layout of the Way Side Amenities would have beautiful landscaped garden, open sit outs, open gymnasium, playground, separate entry and exit gates and also an area for future expansion by the authorities. For the safety of passengers and truckers it will have 24X7 Security, CCTV surveillance, high mast lights etc.

There has been a paradigm shift in the approach towards building infrastructure in India, from need based to an integrated long-term development strategy. The initiative of central and state governments to introduce WSAs is a win-win situation for sponsors, vendors, local economy, tourism and above all motorists.

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