In a major bid to resolve issues and increase the pace of construction of highway projects, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has agreed to most of the suggestions made by the National Highways Builders Federation (NHBF) related to project delivery.
The suggestions were made about nine areas that included COVID-19 relief, bidding process, contract management, old and new model engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreements, improvement of concession agreement of hybrid annuity model (HAM), improvement of concession agreement based on build-operate-transfer (BOT) (Toll) and project preparation.
The suggestions made by NHBF were deliberated by NHAI for proper redressal and the authority has agreed to 25 suggestions related to the agency. NHAI has assured that all good suggestions shall be positively considered in future as well. Other suggestions on policy related matters have been forwarded to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) for consideration.
Concerning COVID-19 relief, the extension of time to contractor or concessionaire for construction period without imposition of any cost or penalty shall be granted by the project director up to three months and regional officer for more than three months and up to six months.
To enable the bidder to have an assessment of road condition at the time of bidding, NHAI shall provide the detailed project report (DPR) along with the network survey vehicle (NSV) light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data as per availability to the bidders. All survey data collected by DPR consultants will be made available to agencies under one platform through NHAI’s cloud-based Data Lake software.
To ensure timely payments to vendors and their monitoring, submission of bills related to project payments shall be done through PMS and Data Lake.
These measures are in continuation of the agency’s past initiatives to support concessionaires, contractors and consultants to instill confidence in the bidders of the roads sector. In March 2020, NHAI disbursed Rs 100 billion through online payments and ensured that no payments remain pending due to closure of office during the lock down. In the first quarter of current fiscal, NHAI disbursed more than Rs 150 billion to vendors.
Additionally, steps such as monthly payments to the contractors were taken to ensure cash flow to the contractors.