Infrastructure

NHAI Revamps Highway Development Strategy, Seeks Separate Bids For Wayside Amenities

V Bhagya Subhashini

Jun 14, 2024, 04:15 PM | Updated 04:15 PM IST

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has ambitious plans to establish around 1,000 WSAs over the next five years, aiming for one every 50 km along national highways. (Representative Image via X@nitin_gadkari)
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has ambitious plans to establish around 1,000 WSAs over the next five years, aiming for one every 50 km along national highways. (Representative Image via X@nitin_gadkari)

In a strategic move, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has eliminated the requirement for road contractors and concessionaires to develop wayside amenities (WSAs) along new highways and expressways. Instead, NHAI will now seek separate bids from companies specialising in creating such amenities.

This decision aims to attract global expertise in designing and innovating wayside amenities, thereby enhancing the return on investment and improving the overall experience for highway users.

Previously, highway contractors or concessionaires were tasked with the additional responsibility of building, running, and maintaining WSAs. However, in a circular dated June 11, NHAI issued new guidelines for excluding the construction of WSAs from the scope of road contractors. The circular detailed the methodology for removing WSA construction work in various civil work modes, including engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), hybrid annuity mode (HAM), and build-operate-transfer (BOT) mode.

"Segregating the works of road construction and wayside amenities will help in getting a great focus for the latter. This can also lead to greater customisation and could garner interest from specialised players such as oil marketing companies and hospitality sector players," said Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, senior director and global head of consulting at Crisil Market Intelligence and Analytics.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has ambitious plans to establish around 1,000 WSAs over the next five years, aiming for one every 50 km along national highways.

Of these, 800 will be developed under the public-private partnership (PPP) model. In this model, NHAI will provide land and all necessary permissions, while private players will handle the development, operation, and maintenance of the facilities for 15-30 years. So far, 198 WSAs have been awarded, with 162 currently in the bidding stage.

The government believes that these WSAs will offer significant opportunities to investors, developers, operators, and retailers, with estimated returns of 15-30 per cent on an average capital investment of Rs 1-10 crore.

Each WSA will feature facilities such as fuel stations, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, food courts, restaurants, dhabas, convenience stores, first aid or medical rooms, childcare rooms, areas for promoting local artisans, drone landing facilities, and even helipads at larger sites.

V Bhagya Subhashini is a staff writer at Swarajya. She tracks infrastructure developments.


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