DM defies the critics with popular PPPs

Public private partnerships are usually the type of story referred to in the trade as ‘dull but worthy’. However excited we get when we hear about a new record-breaking mega-project, the ‘P’ words arrive like three clouts from the back of a giant cold spoon, to quell our ardour.

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By  Sean Cronin Published  January 28, 2006

|~||~||~|Public private partnerships are usually the type of story referred to in the trade as ‘dull but worthy’. However excited we get when we hear about a new record-breaking mega-project, the ‘P’ words arrive like three clouts from the back of a giant cold spoon, to quell our ardour. It is a subject peppered with impenetrable acronyms and abbreviations — BOOs, BOTs, BOOTs and the like, designed to make the uninitiated, dizzy. The binding of PPP contracts requires almost as much engineering as the projects discussed within them. You can start reading a PPP contract a fit and healthy young man, but by the time you get to section 173, paragraph 13, sub-section (c) of the ‘obligations of the concessionaire’, you are lolling in your chair like Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, waiting for Nurse Ratched to give you an injection and put you out of your misery. So when it emerged that Dubai Municipality was looking to procure an increasing number of projects through the privately financed route, it didn’t immediately rock our world. But that was before we knew what sort of projects would be given the go-ahead as a result of the initiative. DM’s fledgling Investment Office has got off to a cracking start and is getting involved in some genuinely interesting projects, most of which seem like very good ideas. Recycling cooking oil, using tyres to power cement plants and state-of-the-art bus shelters are just a few of the projects to be adopted by the new office, which would like to see more proposals from the private sector. It sounds like a creative and innovative way of allowing the private sector to come up with clever ideas that can be put to good public use. Of the plans currently under consideration at the Municipality, my favourite has to be the one to develop hundreds of modern public toilets throughout Dubai using the BOT (Build-Own-Transfer) procurement method, as opposed to the BOO (Build-Own-Operate) or even a BOOT (Build-Own-Operate-Transfer). In the end, they may opt for a ‘Build-Operate-Giveback’ — which I suppose would make it a BOG, appropriately enough. Sean Cronin Editor||**||

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