Critical infrastructure projects in WA to cope with mounting population

Western Australia has been blessed with a mining boom which has created rapid economic growth and the lowest unemployment rates in the country. A clear downside of this boom however has been the lack of infrastructure to cope with the immense surge of new residents. With election campaigns now moving into full swing, traffic jams, crowded trains and buses in Perth, inadequate housing and souring rental prices stand out amongst the key areas of debate as infrastructure requirements become more pressing than ever

An extra 78,000 people settled in WA last year to make it Australia’s fastest growing state, with the East Pilbara having an unmatched 82 per cent growth between the 2006 and 2011 census. A recent report by Engineers Australia has revealed that engineering construction is at record levels, although a large amount of WA’s economic infrastructure spending is on resource related infrastructure with water, sewerage, housing and other non-resource related projects lacking attention. Critical infrastructure will open up opportunities for those in the construction sector, with a number of major developments already in the pipeline.

The highly anticipated WA Gateway upgrade is expected to commence in April to improve access to Perth Airport and surrounding areas and the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by Main Roads WA. Royalties for Regions are delivering a number of infrastructure initiatives across regional WA which includes the PortLink Inland Freight Corridor, the Gascoyne Revitalisation Plan, and the $220 million Ord Irrigation Expansion Project developing around 7,400 hectares of agricultural land.

The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia recently revealed Perth’s median house price of $495,000 is just $7,500 shy of Perth’s all-time peak, and there is high demand for new housing across the state. The Brownlie Precinct Regeneration Project is now underway which will see 25 hectares of land developed into 1,500 affordable new homes, civic and community facilities, and commercial and retail opportunities. The Brownlie project is part of the state government’s Affordable Housing Strategy and Directions 2031 and Beyond policy which will see up to 22,000 new dwellings built in the Perth and Peel regions by 2020.

Perth’s public transport system which is severely under strain has been a major point of public anger, with continuing delays in the commencement of major projects. The Labor government has jumped on the opportunity to please voters announcing that the 22-kilometre Metro Area Express (MAX) light rail system would be underway in the first term and be completed by 2018 if they were to win the March election. The light rail system is controversially not part of the Liberal government’s election package to remain in power, with plans to instead expand the Graham Farmer Freeway tunnel by removing the emergency lane in an attempt to divert an extra 14,500 vehicles per day away from Riverside Drive during construction of the Perth waterfront project, Elizabeth Quay.

The Elizabeth Quay is one of the many urban development projects planned to revitalize Perth city, along with Perth City Link, the 40-hectare Riverside project which is expected to attract $2 billion of investment to the area and the new 60,000 seat Perth Stadium.  Kings Square in Fremantle is also due for a revamp with a new retail area and office spaces planned.

Suppliers and contractors to the construction industry will be eager to learn about the upcoming projects planned for the state at the 4th Annual WA Major Projects Conference. Being held on 16-17 April at the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre the event continues to be the largest major projects and infrastructure conference in Western Australia, attracting over 350 delegates annually. Key speakers at the event include Sue McCarry from the Department of Transport, David Keenan of Siemens Ltd and Silcar, Kieran Kinsella – CEO at Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority, Leo Coci – Executive Director of Infrastructure Delivery at Main Roads WA, Paul Roseair from the Department of Regional Development & Lands, and John Savell from the Department of Housing.

For more information on the WA Major Projects Conference 2013 please visit: http://www.waconference.com.au/

New PPP law to boost mega project development for Qatar’s Vision 2030

A widely anticipated law to regulate public-private partnerships (PPP’s) will accelerate development of key infrastructure projects as the private sector plays a greater role in the sustainable urban development. The Qatari government has expressed plans to transfer public sector-led development to a market-driven economy, recognizing the opportunities in engaging in private sector enterprise and the speed at which projects could potentially be completed.

Over US$140 billion has been committed to mega projects and smart city development in Qatar’s Vision 2030 plan across energy, transport, education, health and tourism sectors. An impressive series of projects in the pipeline include a US$68.5 billion injection into a transport corridor, new roads, railways, a new Doha airport, and deep-water seaport, along with US$4 billion to be invested in stadiums and an additional boost into new hotels and tourism facilities. As hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar has an incentive to deliver world class facilities and services, with PPP initiatives having the potential to avoid time and cost overruns on these crucial developments and the freeing up of the public sector workforce for policy making and project implementation.

A 2012 study by Markab Advisory found that countries in the GCC plan to invest up to US$2 trillion in PPP’s and infrastructure over the next decade, and that a more efficient process would save Qatar US$30 billion. The study recommended the government create a centralized PPP unit and a fund to streamline activities, provide direction and aid political support.

PPP’s have played a strategic role in the development of a number of key projects across the Middle East region, although these have been predominantly in the energy sector. Much-publicized failures and high-profile delays such as the US$3 billion Mafraq-Gweihat highway in Abu Dhabi and the US$ billion Landbridge in Saudi Arabia have hindered the uptake of the concept on a wider scale, although the extend of new infrastructure and smart urban development plans may act as the catalyst to accelerate a transition of projects from the public to the private sector.

King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) in Saudi Arabia is the largest private sector development in the Middle East, consisting of the construction of a seaport, industrial valley, education zone, central business district, residential zone and resorts. Developed on innovative models of PPP’s the development of KAEC is being undertaken by the private sector, with the public sector creating a business environment which allows investments to flourish. The model has been very successful in attracting global companies to the Saudi Arabian market and seeks to encourage foreign trade movement which in return will benefit Saudi Arabia’s economic and social sectors.

Rayan Qutub, Executive Director – Head of Business Development and Economic Cities Authority at Emmar, The Economic City, will be speaking at the Arab Future Cities Summit in Doha about the KAEC’s PPP model and approach to ensuring long-term commercial viability. Robert Lee, CEO of Bahrain Bay Development, and Eng. Essa Mohammed Ali Kaldari, CEO Lusail Real Estate Development Company will also join Rayan Qutub in a panel discussion which will look at key points for stimulating economic growth, strategies for successful public-private partnerships, attracting businesses, retaining talent and ensuring employment for citizens.

The Arab Future Cities Summit being held on 22 & 23 April 2013 at the St. Regis Doha, Qatar will provide a platform for discussion between public and private sector decision-makers involved in sustainable urban development in Qatar and across the Middle East region.

Expotrade Global is a conference and event organizer with head office based in Melbourne and regional office in Dubai. Specializing in B2B conferences Expotrade has delivered some of the most renowned events in the infrastructure, IT, mining and resources, sustainability, banking, lighting and energy sectors.

For more information on the Arab Future Cities Summit, visit http://www.arabfuturecities.com or contact Expotrade on +9714-4542135.