‘World-class’ highway amenities: With an aim to bring global expertise to developing wayside amenities on national highways, a new step is being considered. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to change the process of developing wayside amenities along new highways and expressways. The responsibility of building these amenities will no longer fall on road contractors and concessionaires. NHAI will now invite separate bids from companies interested in developing these facilities.
According to an ET report, the objective behind this decision is to attract global expertise in creating wayside amenities (WSAs) in India. NHAI aims to encourage innovative designs and products to enhance the return on investment and improve the experience of highway users.
The ministry of road transport and highways has set a target of establishing about 1,000 WSAs over the next five years, with one facility every 50 km along national highways.

Better Experience on Highways

Among these, 800 will be developed under the public-private-partnership (PPP) mode. NHAI will provide land and necessary permissions, as well as supervision, while the private player will be responsible for the development, operation, and maintenance of the facility for a period of 15-30 years.
As of now, only 198 WSAs have been awarded, and 162 are in the bidding stage. The government believes that these WSAs will present significant opportunities for investors, developers, operators, and retailers, with estimated returns ranging from 15-30% on an average capital investment of Rs 1-10 crore.
The facilities to be developed at each WSA include fuel stations, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, food courts, restaurants, dhabas, convenience stores, first aid or medical rooms including childcare rooms, dedicated areas for promoting local artisans, drone landing facilities, and even helipads at larger sites.
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Previously, highway contractors or concessionaires were tasked with developing, running, and maintaining WSAs in addition to their primary road construction responsibilities.
NHAI has issued guidelines on June 11 outlining the methodology for withdrawing the construction work of wayside amenities from the scope of road contractors under various civil work modes such as 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, consulting at Crisil Market Intelligence and Analytics.



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