As part of the World Bank’s continued commitment to road safety, all Bank-financed road projects must now include specific measures to enhance safety standards and protect all road users—motorists, two-wheelers, pedestrians.
In that context. our ongoing road sector project in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu shows how relatively simple and affordable design improvements can make roads significantly safer, and bring other important benefits such as enhanced drainage and water conservation.
To illustrate this, let’s take a look at 10 key design features that have been included in the project.
Working to finance major infrastructure projects, World Bank teams have seen time and again that the sustainability of investments depends ultimately on the efficiency and capacity of the agencies that manage them.
For that reason, our interventions often have a dual goal: supporting high quality infrastructure, and, at the same time, supporting institutions’ efforts to modernize and become more efficient. That institutional development sometimes comes in the form of stand-alone project components that focus on modernizing processes, governance, and skills. But in other cases, infrastructure investment projects can also provide opportunities to initiate important institutional changes.
This is often the case with civil works contracts, and the Tamil Nadu State Road Sector project in India is illustrative of how contracting strategies implemented with Bank support helped a highway agency enhance its implementation capacity, the efficiency of its expenditure, quality of infrastructure, and system sustainability through significantly improved asset management.
Output and performance based road contracts (OPRC) is a contracting modality that is increasingly being used to help manage roads. Unlike traditional contracts, where the owners define what is to be done, and oftentimes how to do it, OPRC contracts define the outcome that the owners want to achieve, and the contractor is responsible to meet those outcomes. Performance is measured against a series of key performance indicators (KPIs) or service levels.
Critical to the success of any OPRC contract is the assignment of risk between parties. Climate change has major implications for OPRC contracts because it affects the risk exposure of both parties. With funding from the Public Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF), a new analysis considered how to incorporate climate change risks into OPRC contracts.
What’s Happening Right Now?
Without clear expectations around climate risk, neither the asset owner nor the companies bidding for performance contracts will adequately address the risks. Bidders cannot be held accountable for risks that are not specifically cited or linked with performance criteria.
At present, climate change risks are generally carried by the asset owner through the Force Majeure provisions of the contract, and treated as ‘unforeseen’ events, with repair costs reimbursed to the contractor. This impacts the overall cost of the OPRC, and where extreme weather events are becoming common-place, reduces the efficacy of OPRC as a contracting modality. The most pressing issues challenging stakeholders during each phase of development are summarized in this chart.
Miranorte is a small town in the State of Tocantins, northern Brazil, well-known for its pineapple production. During the rainy season, the production cannot reach the markets due to the obstruction of the roads with the water flow. In many places, the roads lack bridges and culverts, jeopardizing both safety and accessibility.
In order to address these challenges, the World Bank’s Multisector Project in Tocantins (2012-2019), which includes a rural road component, decided to hear firsthand from the community about their priorities for development and inputs in the selection of roads that needed improvement. Aside from a practical and transparent approach, the consultations compensated for the lack of information required for conventional planning.
Tocantins, as many places in the world, doesn’t have any traffic data, information on road conditions, or even maps of the rural road network available. Although IT technologies are emerging and the importance of these data for management of road assets is evident, it is often time-consuming and costly to survey all the rural road network, especially in a state like Tocantins, which is larger than the United Kingdom.
Indonesia, a vast archipelago of more than 17,500 islands, is the fourth most populous country in the world, with 261 million inhabitants, and the largest economy in Southeast Asia, with a nominal Gross Domestic Product of $933 billion.
Central government spending on transport increased by threefold between 2010-2016. This has enabled the country to extend its transport network capacity and improve access to some of the most remote areas across the archipelago.
The country has a road network of about 538,000 km, of which about 47,000 km are national roads, and 1,000 km are expressways. Heavy congestion and low traffic speeds translate into excessively long journey times. In fact, traveling a mere 100 km can take 2.5 to 4 hours. The country relies heavily on waterborne transport and has about 1,500 ports, with most facilities approaching their capacity limits, especially in Eastern Indonesia. Connectivity between ports and land infrastructure is limited or non-existent. The rail network is limited (6,500 km across the islands of Java and Sumatra) and poorly maintained. The country’s 39 international and 191 domestic airports mainly provide passenger services, and many are also reaching their capacity limits.
Around the world, roads remain the dominant mode of transport and are among the most heavily-used types of infrastructure, accounting for about 80% of the distance travelled for individuals and 50% for goods.
Despite this intensive use, the funding available for road maintenance has been inadequate, leaving roads in many countries unsafe and unfit for purpose.
To make matters worse, roads are also very vulnerable to climate and disaster risk: when El Niño hit Peru in 2017, the related flooding damaged about 18% of the Peruvian road network in just one month.
It is no surprise then that roads are the sector that will require the most financing. In fact, the G20 estimates that roads account for more than half of the $15 trillion investment gap in infrastructure through 2040.
Harsh, a civil engineer from Surendranagar, the western State of Gujarat in India, proudly has a collection of supercars recently delivered from Germany. They are all brand new with sleek designs, glossy paint, and fully loaded with state-of-the-art features. One of them is a 600 horse-power monster, another is the first of its kind in India.
Few things are more depressing than seeing the damage caused by cyclones on transport infrastructure. Especially when it is a causeway that was only formally opened less than one month before the storm. That is what I found in early 2014 when participating in the Tonga Cyclone Ian Post Disaster Needs Assessment. The cyclone was a typical example of the heavy toll that climate change is taking on transport infrastructure, particularly in the most vulnerable countries.
Engineers are taught that water is the greatest enemy of transport infrastructure, and unfortunately climate change is leading to an increase in floods and storms, especially within the South-East Asia region. For example, the figure below shows the number of floods and storms for some Asian countries between 2000 and 2008. The significant increase in the number of floods is self-evident.
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Over the past three years and a half, our team has been working on a transport project with the state of São Paulo in Brazil. The project involves a lot of traveling, including frequent commutes between the World Bank office in Brasilia and the State Department of Transport in São Paulo (DER-SP)—a journey that is estimated to take 2 hours and 40 minutes. This includes the time to drive from the World Bank office to Brasilia Airport, flight time, and commuting from São Paulo’s Congonhas Airport to the State Department of Transport.
Let’s say that, on a typical Wednesday, the team needs to attend a meeting in São Paulo. To ensure we can make it on time, we plan our day carefully, book our flights and define the right time to leave the office in Brasilia. With a plan in place, we leave the office at 10:00 am and head to Brasilia Airport. The first leg of the trip takes 35 minutes and we manage to arrive early for our 11:00 am flight, which, unfortunately, is delayed by 20 minutes. We land in São Paulo, quickly get out of the terminal, and manage to hop on a taxi at 1:20pm… not bad! We are now on the last leg of our journey, a mere 14-kilometer drive between Congonhas Airport and the meeting place, which is supposed to take only 20 minutes. However, there is a short thunderstorm that floods the city and closes off key streets. This single event leads to complete traffic chaos along the way, and our planned 20-minute transfer from the airport turns into a 1-hour-and-15-minute ordeal. These traffic disruptions have a serious impact on our meeting as well, as some Department of Transport staff cannot join and some items of the agenda cannot be discussed.
This incident may seem anecdotal, but it is a good illustration of our extreme dependency on transport systems and the weaknesses associated with it. Because transport is so critical to our social and economic lives, it is extremely important to understand, anticipate, and minimize the different types of risks that may impact transport systems.