After 12 years’ of experience as a Project Manager on non PPP projects, I joined the BAM PPP team in August 2017 as a Contract Manager on the Brabo 2 site in Antwerp. This site involved important infrastructure works for the renovation of a subway station, underground parking, renovation of roads and new metro lines in the city centre of Antwerp. Due to the complexity of the project, the tight schedule and unfortunately some unforeseen circumstances, the site faced some major difficulties.
I quickly learnt that BAM PPP play an important role in PPP projects. Firstly, BAM PPP needs to control the cash flow between lenders, the EPC contractor and the government. Secondly, the SPV Manager is required to manage the information flow between all parties involved by steering committees, technical advisors, EPC and MTC management and the government. It is very important that all of the abovementioned parties have access to the relevant information, out of the vast quantity of information available, in order to make the decisions that are required by them. Lastly, the SPV Manager must take care of the mutual obligations of the parties to prevent conflicts arising. When conflicts arise and escalate, BAM PPP will mediate between the parties to find fair solutions based upon the contractual clauses.
For the past 2 years, it was on the latter point my work was focused on. Faced with the issues on site at Antwerp, the EPC contractor provided a lot of technical solutions for those problems. Equipped with an engineering and legal degree, I was able to address the contractual consequences of those solutions towards the different parties in a just, fair and contractual way. PPP-contracts usually contain the answer for a discussion but they are very complex and need constant attention. Discussions can end very quickly when you are able to explain to all parties what the contract implies on the issue. Unfortunately for the Brabo 2 site, this process was delayed and some disputes escalated further than expected. It was difficult for parties to accept the judgement of the contract and we had to make serious efforts to lead the arguing stakeholders to a mediated solution.
For me personally, it provides great satisfaction to still be respected by the stakeholders despite the sometimes harsh message I have to give to those parties. I believe the project, really a technical stunt, will also end in a positive way, contractually and commercially.