‘Scholen van Morgen’ is a public private partnership between partners from the public and private sector joining forces to realise a project with a clear task and risk division. CFO Paul Lievens explains: “Jan De Nul has much experience with such PPP constructions, both in Belgium and abroad. In fact, Belgium and the Netherlands are late adopters of the PPP approach. Anglo-Saxon and South American countries already use this system for much longer. In South America, almost all major port operations are awarded through some or other type of concession with long-term obligations. As such, Jan De Nul acquired a lot of experience with PPP projects. In Argentina, for instance, we maintain for 20 years already the Paraná and Plata rivers with our dredging vessels.”

In Paul Lievens’ opinion, PPP constructions offer both benefits and drawbacks: “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to us as a contractor whether a public authority wants to work with a PPP construction or prefers a conventional tender procedure. In some cases, the Design, Build, Finance and Maintain obligation, which is typical of PPP projects, offers clear benefits. In other cases, it doesn’t or to a lesser extent only, particularly if the extra complexity of a PPP with its corresponding costs for setting everything up is not in proportion to the absolute value of the investment.”

This is the reason why public authorities do not always choose for the same form of cooperation. Particularly in Belgium, there are considerable differences. Flanders imposes other conditions than Wallonia or Brussels. Also the nuances differ depending on the public authority calling for tenders. Meanwhile, we’ve acquired experience in almost every possible project type: from traditional bank financing to the issuance of debentures with EIB support.

The public limited company ‘Scholen van Morgen’ imposes a 30-year maintenance period for the school buildings. “For us, this is no problem at all. On the contrary, it is a strong incentive to build in a sustainable manner and uphold high quality standards.”

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