L. Ensure ends-users, businesses and community stakeholders are engaged at all stages of infrastructure delivery to ensure viability and enhance the services

The level of input required from stakeholders should not be underestimated, and feedback at all stages of a project can ensure the project is continuing to deliver value for money to the government and the community. Members of the local community will typically know the area well and may be able to contribute positively to project planning and enhance the value of the project.

On the other hand, insufficient consultation can be detrimental to the completed project. For example, many PPPs globally have been adversely affected by land acquisition issues, and other communication failures with stakeholders, identifying a strong lesson to be learned from past experience.

Example – negative impacts of poor stakeholder engagement

The relationship with the end-users is a key ingredient to the success of a project. On the Segarra Garrigues Irrigation project in Spain, farmers were required to agree to and provide their own capital to connect to the water network. This only occurred after an improved stakeholder management plan was implemented and much of the delay that occurred on that project was due to the reluctance of these landowners to engage with the development.

For more information, see the Segarra Garrigues Irrigation System Case Study. 

Public stakeholder engagement can also provide great opportunities to enhance the design of the infrastructure, to increase employment or to better serve otherwise underserved members of the community.

There may be other challenges faced by the Procuring Authority and the broader government with respect to delivering infrastructure generally, and also delivering infrastructure using a PPP model. The PPP model can have negative public perceptions, and an understanding of the benefits of the model on a broader scale, particularly the benefits to end-users, should be communicated to the public. Negative publicity created by the media following a project specific failure may negatively impact a much wider public perception of PPPs, as a result of which the overall benefits of a specific project or of the PPP model in general may be overlooked.

Focus groups, comprising end-users and people living in or close to the area affected by the project, can be used for a qualitative assessment of expectations and feelings on the project’s features and specific issues. Surveys are commonly used for gathering feedback from larger groups.

Example – Design input and serving underserved groups

The I-495 Express Lanes project in the USA highlights that public engagement with key stakeholders can deliver a better project for the community and for the project sponsor. Initial plans for the project included just one access point into the region’s largest employment centre. After early feedback from major employers, elected officials and transit advocates, the project team changed the scope of the project to include three major entry and exit points to serve the busy commercial area. By proactively engaging stakeholders early, the parties were able to work collaboratively to develop a transportation solution that provided a better outcome  

On the same project, the Procuring Authority mandated that the Project Company utilise ‘Disadvantaged Business Enterprises’ where possible, with $490 million contracted to small and disadvantaged businesses. At the time, it was the largest contribution in Virginia’s history for such businesses from a single transportation project.

For more information, see the I-495 Express Lanes Case Study.

Example – engaging with stakeholders on design particulars

The Zaragoza Tramway project in Spain highlights the benefit that all stakeholders can achieve by including the public in the decision-making process. In that project, for every tree that had to be removed for the construction of the tramway, two trees have been planted elsewhere, with the selection being carried out through a participative process, improving the overall outcome of a project.

For more information, see the Zaragoza Tramway Case Study.

Example – Prioritised community engagement

Community engagement was prioritised on the Port of Miami Tunnel project in the USA, with local employment programmes during construction, and continuing work with local schools continuing throughout the project. This focus was seen as a key enabler of success, as construction of public projects was controversial at the time of financial close.

For more information, see the Port of Miami Tunnel Case Study.

M. Ensure ongoing transparent engagement with end-users, businesses and community stakeholders on all relevant issues

N. Define the role of the Project Company in the management of end-users, businesses and community stakeholders

O. Consider each relevant community group, as they may have different interests and desired outcomes