Qatar - An Opportunity For Operation and Maintenance PPPs

According to MEED.com Qatar awarded projects worth over US$136 billion between 2011–2020. Over the last decade, the focus of Qatar’s investment has been on the development of infrastructure related to the FIFA World Cup to be hosted in 2022. This includes stadiums and ancillary infrastructure such as metro lines, an airport expansion, expressways, and hotels. 

According to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s website, several venues for the FIFA World Cup are modular and will have demountable top tiers. Ras Abu Aboud Stadium in Doha will be the first fully demountable FIFA World Cup stadium. This is to ensure that Qatar is left with stadiums fit for purpose beyond 2022 and that there will be no so-called ‘white elephants.’ A similar approach was adopted by other host cities such as Innsbruck and Basel with modular stadiums developed for the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship. 

In light of the great investment made by Qatar and with much of this infrastructure already built and the rest well underway, it may be worth shifting focus to the future of such infrastructure. Some questions that may assist such inquiry include, what are the best means to utilize this infrastructure to its full potential and how to best fund and deliver long-term infrastructure improvements that may be required over the upcoming decades. 

We may need to find the answers to these questions sooner rather than later. Generally, newly built infrastructure starts to decline after approximately five years. One example of how infrastructure may deteriorate if not maintained and rehabilitated properly, is the U.S. Interstate Highway System that was authorized by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 (the Highway System). The initial cost estimate for the Highway System was US$25 billion over 12 years; however, it ended up costing US$114 billion (equivalent to US$530 billion in 2019) and took 35 years to complete. 

Once constructed, the highways had to be maintained and that proved to be a major flaw in the system, which was not accounted for at the outset. The funding for maintenance and improvements was very limited (despite reliance on fuel taxes and tolls collected from users) and resulted in major deterioration. 

The American Society for Civil Engineers in its March 2021 scorecard on the status of U.S. infrastructure, including the Highway System, gave scores ranging from D- in transit to C in bridges. A similar issue can be found in the maintenance (as well as utility) of several Olympic venues and other international sporting venues post games. 

 

Source: Natlawreview