Ministry allocates extra funds to accelerate Dutch waterways projects

Work on the roads, waterways, locks and coast in the Netherlands is to keep running smoothly in the current corona era and should be accelerated where possible. Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management) and the construction sector are taking measures to this effect.

She informed the Dutch House of Representatives about this on Wednesday 22 April. Van Nieuwenhuizen: ‘We are focusing on “doing what can be done immediately”.’ Although the focus is on speeding up maintenance of roads which can benefit from reduced traffic, waterway projects are also being considered.

A special task force of Rijkwaterstaat and the construction industry is mapping out which work can be taken up immediately and which measures can be taken in the slightly longer term. Focus is also on accelerating maintenance work in projects that are already in progress. Rijkswaterstaat is part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and responsible for the design, construction, management and maintenance of the main infrastructure facilities in the Netherlands.

Plans to accelerate

Work that can be carried out quickly includes for example bringing maintenance work on the A1 and A8 motorways forward. Together with trade organisations, Rijkswaterstaat is also investigating the possibilities of bringing forward work planned for later years. These are not only measures that can be implemented immediately, but also measures for six months from now and for 2021.

The acceleration comes on top of the earlier impulse package and the acceleration of management and maintenance in 2020 and 2021. The Minister has earmarked an additional 100 million euros for this year and 165 million euros for next year. An additional 150 million euros will be available for the waterways this year. It is as yet unclear which waterway projects will benefit from this extra spending.

Rijkswaterstaat will reduce as many payment periods in contracts as possible to one month where this is not yet the case. This is to benefit company’s liquidity. In the case of products and services with long lead times, Rijkswaterstaat will, where possible, adjust the payment rhythm to more than one month.

Webinar tender meetings

In order to keep Rijkswaterstaat’s order book well-filled, current and planned tenders are speeded up as much as possible. Sometimes, because of the corona measures, this process cannot proceed in the usual way, for example with meetings with a large group of people. In such cases, alternatives are sought to allow the tendering process to continue.

The first experiences with this are positive. For various projects, the market consultations were held online in the form of a webinar. Participation and information meetings can also take place online.

Keeping the pace

Where the corona measures lead to bottlenecks within projects, for example in the field of planning, working hours or the deployment of people and equipment laid down in contracts, Rijkswaterstaat works with the contractor to determine what is needed to keep up the pace of a project.

In doing so, Rijkswaterstaat seeks to take a reasonable and fair attitude towards the contractor. The organisation expects the same from the private parties towards the client and other companies in the chain. In concrete terms, this involves, where possible, granting postponement of deadlines, relaxing the penalty regime and extending the duration of workable hours.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk