HE Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) revealed that investments of Dubai Government in roads and transport infrastructure, estimated at AED100 billion, had generated economic benefits in terms of saved time and fuel wastes in the order of AED169 billion between 2006 and 2018. The benefit-cost ratio of Dubai Metro is expected to reach 2.5 by the end of 2020, and rise to as much as 4.3 by the end of 2030, according to a technical study conducted by a British University.
Al Tayer made these remarks during the key session of the World Road Congress 2019 in Abu Dhabi in the presence of top officials of several entities from the UAE and abroad.
Al Tayer reviewed elements defining the excellence of infrastructure projects management; a key driver of economic development. “Thanks to billions of dirhams, the UAE invested in developing infrastructure; it has become today a leading country in the quality of infrastructure. And no wonder it kept its ranking of being first in the world in the quality of roads throughout 2013-2017. Such investments had also benefited the competitiveness of the UAE in hosting global events, such as Expo 2020,” commented Al Tayer.
“The improved mass transit systems of Dubai contributed to increasing the share of public transport in the total mobility journeys from 6% in 2006 to 17.5% in 2018. Moreover, the improved road projects together with the awareness programmes in place, contributed to reducing road accident fatalities from 21.9 cases per 100 thousand of the population in 2006 to 2.4 cases per 100 thousand of the population in 2018, thus dipping by as much as 89%,” he explained.
Al Tayer referred to nine success factors of infrastructure projects management: effective management, comprehensive strategies, proper administrative model and resilient organizational chart, quick decision-making, sufficient funding, governance and control, risks and challenges management, implementation of plans and future fore-sighting, and applying hi-tech in projects.
“Effective leadership warrants a clear vision and close follow-up, be it through meetings or periodic field visits. It also requires timely and well-rehearsed decisions, technical expertise built on different information sources, and playing an effective role in achieving results through the power of persuasion,” said Al Tayer.
He recapped RTA’s experience in the construction of Dubai Metro project and the instrumental leadership of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in delivering the project on time. He sighted the recurrent visits of HH during various phases of the project, noting that such an approach was also applied to other mega projects such as Dubai Tram, Dubai Water Canal, and the ongoing Route 2020 project for extending the Red Line of Dubai Metro to the site of Expo.
“All projects undertaken by RTA in Dubai are guided by a clear vision for the infrastructure sector in line with Dubai Plan 2021 as well as the close follow-up to inspect the project progress at site,” commented Al Tayer.
“RTA has access to a variety of finance sources including the private sector. It applies the principles of transparency, future foresight and the use of sophisticated technologies. For instance, in 2017, RTA constructed the Enterprise Command and Control Centre (EC3), the biggest transportation and traffic control centre in the world, which was inaugurated by HH Sheikh Mohammed. It enabled increasing the coverage of intelligent traffic systems in the Emirate from 11% to 60%.
Al Tayer reviewed the core elements of successful projects management highlighted by establishing a project management office, projects priorities, project programmes management, risk and challenges management, electronic project management, stakeholder relations management, asset lifecycle management, value engineering, and knowledge-sharing platforms.
Reflecting on projects priority setting, Al Tayer said, “The system has a key role in delivering RTA’s strategic plan. It enables the selection of the best project portfolio to realise RTA’s strategic objectives within budgets in hand. It is based on a whole host of standards such as value engineering and an integrated enterprise system. The implementation of such parameters contributed to saving billions of dirhams over the past three years. For instance, the implementation of such principles to Shindagha Bridge brought back savings of about AED316 million, thus reducing the cost by 50%, thanks to a revision of the arch design turning it into just an architectural shape.”
As for knowledge-sharing platforms, Al Tayer referred to Dubai International Project Management Forum; Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport (first in MENA region), and Dubai World Challenge for Self-Driving Transport with prizes amounting to AED19 million.
Al Tayer reviewed lessons learnt from two mega projects recently accomplished by RTA: Dubai Metro and Dubai Water Canal. He listed five points learned from Dubai Metro: clear responsibilities of respective parties, competent internal technical team, engaging the operator right from the design stage, appointing safety auditor from the start of the project construction, and preparing a complete time-chart for all project works.
He identified three lessons learnt particularly from Dubai Water Canal project: the first is the implementation of value engineering, which saved about AED one billion from the project cost. The second is the partnership with the private sector, which eased the pressure on the government budget. The third is the attention to environmental aspects; which resulted in improving the quality of the Creek Water by 33%.
Al Tayer concluded by stressing the importance of investing in infrastructure. He stated that Dubai Government infrastructure investments amounted to AED100 billion, which generated savings amounting to AED169 billion between 2006 and 2018. These savings were in the form of economic benefits such as the reduced time and fuel waste associated with traffic congestions.
“However, investments should not be restricted to infrastructure, and should rather extend to include continuously empowering Emirati human resources. The success of projects is primarily based on the leader, clear vision, direct impact, and close field follow-up. It all goes down to the quote of HH Sheikh Mohammed: “Zayed had initiated the fieldwork…. And we will continue the march.”