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INDUSTRY REVIEWCIVIL ENGINEERING


off the ground even if the funding is in place”.


More generally, while global civil engineering industry activity appears to be picking up, many planned projects around the world are still being delayed or even cancelled due to problems securing the necessary finance.


That issue was highlighted by Bill Kimball, account manager for Mammoet USA North, which provides engineered heavy lifting and transport services for infrastructure and other civil engineering projects across northeastern USA. “Right now, the feedback from customers in that industry is generally positive. There is a tremendous amount of work being planned and slowly we are seeing some of those plans evolve into funded projects and at least getting to the detailed engineering stage,” he stated.


“In many cases, though, the actual kick-offs are still being delayed. A lot of the planned projects we looked at a year-and- a-half ago have been cancelled or are still pending capital funding.” With such issues also apparent in many other countries, there is a growing worldwide focus on trying to boost investment in major national and regional infrastructure projects through greater use of public-private partnership (PPP) financing.


Competitive PPP market In the case of the USA, Skanska suggested in its 2017 review that regarding infrastructure development, “the PPP market is strong, albeit with considerable competition”. However, Mammoet’s Kimball said that while PPP financing of civil engineering projects is apparent in the USA, some of the earlier enthusiasm for that approach might have waned.


“I am not sure that PPP is as popular now as it was a couple of years ago. There was a boom in partnership investment but it appears not all of it has been that successful because there has been a fair amount of turnover in terms of project financing. I do not know why that has been the case, but maybe investors have not realised the sort of returns


www.heavyliftpfi.com


Generally speaking, this business has certainly not got any easier. – Bill Kimball, Mammoet USA North


they were looking for,” he commented. Whatever the source of the finance, Omega Morgan’s Zander suggested any increase in the use of private sector capital to support major infrastructure civil engineering projects is probably unlikely to have much impact on logistics providers. “I think such projects will be run by similar companies, if not the same ones, to those we have dealt with in the past,” he stated. In summary, Kimball said the USA’s civil engineering project logistics market has become very challenging and the same appears to be the case globally. “Generally speaking, this business has certainly not got any easier,” he concluded.


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www.fracht.com May/June 2018 51


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