Private sector firms sought to deliver major waste plan for Northern Emirates

Proposal involves construction of facility in Umm Al Qaiwain that will be capable of recycling, composting and converting waste into fuel.

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The UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is planning to invite private sector bidders to run a huge project to handle waste in the Northern Emirates.

The ministry has already carried out a feasibility study for a new integrated waste management strategy for Ajman, Fujairah, Umm Al Qaiwain and Ras Al Khaimah. It is now looking to take on a project manager to assess final options and to oversee a procurement process that is likely to involve major new facilities being designed, built and run by a privately-financed consortium.

Current proposals for the project are for waste to be handled at a major new facility in Umm Al Qaiwain capable of processing between 1,000 and 1,500 tonnes per day. It will house a materials recycling facility, a composting site and a residue-derived fuel facility, which will convert non-recyclable waste into fuel.

This fuel will then be used to power a waste-to-energy incineration plant proposed under the second phase of the project. Depending on the outcome of these, further construction and waste-handling facilities will be built.

The ministry has just issued a document seeking bids for project managers to run this process for a two-year period. Bids from those looking to participate need to be submitted by June 30.

The ministry was not available for comment.

A survey published by PwC’s Middle East Capital Projects team last month found that nine out of 10 respondents from the industry felt private sector funding of capital projects would be of growing or critical importance over the next year, as government revenues come under sustained pressure because of lower oil revenues.

Speaking to The National earlier this year, Oliver Crasson, the executive vice-president for business development at construction company Besix, said that he believed environmental projects – including waste handling, waste-to-energy and wastewater processing – would be at the forefront of PPP initiatives in the region.

“Because there is an asset and a process – something is going in, something is going out,” he explained. “There is an economic reasoning behind it.”

Besix is already a partner in a long-running PPP project providing wastewater services in Ajman. The company led a consortium that includes Veolia Water, Black & Veatch and the government of Ajman that secured a Dh1.2 billion, 27-year construction and maintenance deal in 2006.

Speaking at the recent Meed Construction Leadership Summit, Ian Tempest, a director of project management company Faithful + Gould, argued that PPP schemes offered governments more than simple access to finance to fund schemes.

“In terms of the public sector’s point of view, the important thing is that they get the opportunity of being very prescriptive about what they want their service to be, and then for the private sector to come up with innovative solutions,” said Mr Tempest.

“The important thing is that during that bidding stage, the private sector has the opportunity of taking the long-term view, engaging with a facilities management company and other operators, so that they are designing from the outset a quality of product that will last the duration [of the concession period].”

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