Pennsylvania’s infrastructure received a “C-” in the latest report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The grading is designed to highlight where infrastructure needs are not being met in hopes of securing funding to make repairs.
ASCE’s Bob Wright said this is one report card people should be thinking about.
“Our state is home to a rapidly aging infrastructure network and increasingly severe weather events, which put significant strain on our built environment,” he said. “We rely on the infrastructure to stand up to these strains and threats so the residents can feel safe and our communities can prosper.”
Wright believes if this was a report card he brought home to his parents, he would have been in trouble, and so is Pennsylvania’s crumbling infrastructure.
“It’s a ‘C-’, not the best grade in the world. Again, that means our infrastructure is in a mediocre condition and we require some attention. The cumulative grade is reflective of the data available to us. And with so much growth and new projects throughout the state could surely Strengthen if we keep our foot on the gas.”
SEPTA general manager Leslie Richards said the whole reason for their crumbling infrastructure and “D” grade is a lack of money.
“We have stayed steady since 2018 which means that we have not fallen farther behind in our state of good repair. Our teams are working and planning tirelessly to keep the system in a state of good repair with the resources that we have.”
Federal spending will add $100 million a year to SEPTA’s capital budget for the next five years, but that’s nowhere near the money necessary to bring all the structures back to perfect condition.
Richards believes they are in need of $4 billion to get ahead on just routine maintenance and repairs. She says while transit agencies in other parts of the country get local matching funds for their capital work, SEPTA doesn’t. She’s hopeful a new legislature will change that next year so they can be competitive in the bid process.
Read more from our partners, WHYY.
Infrastructure consulting business DBI Consulting can support the delivery of key infrastructure for education institutions and facilities.
“A skilled and educated workforce serves as a key component of a prosperous country. We cannot expect this economy to grow without significant investment in education as a system, and particularly education infrastructure at the facility level,” says DBI Consulting director Monty Ditibane.
The standards promulgated by the Department of Basic Education for education facilities ensure that key deliverables of government in terms of education are achieved.
He adds that these key deliverables are in addition to constitutional requirements from government contained in the Immovable Asset Management Act No. 19 of 2007, and are anchored on the infrastructure delivery management system process.
The Act provides a uniform framework for the management of an immovable asset that is held or used by a national or provincial government department. It also ensures the coordination of the use of an immovable asset with the service delivery objectives of a national or provincial department.
DBI Consulting’s ability to deliver education infrastructure lies in its capacity to conduct feasibility studies, condition assessments on existing infrastructure, and aligning these factors to key deliverables for education.
“We understand these necessary steps and processes to deliver education infrastructure. We assess the facilities in terms of performance, and then we put together costs to rectify or replace when replacement costs are necessary.”
Ditibane highlights that South Africa is a developing nation and, therefore, education infrastructure is “highly specialised” in terms of how this infrastructure is procured and built.
“We have a vast set of knowledge and expertise in building schools. We interpret what the Constitution specifies in terms of the standards and technical requirements for education infrastructure. We conduct running audits, project portfolios and programme management related to education infrastructure delivery.”
Ditibane states that DBI Consulting is often involved in educational infrastructure projects in the Free State, and these mostly include building and fixing educational facilities.
These facilities are also referred to as “megaschools”, and were built in the 1960s and 1970s with a combination of hazardous asbestos materials and concrete, he points out.
“With asbestos having been outlawed and declared a hazardous material, we are involved in the redesign of these schools using appropriate building materials. This includes schools with an intake of about 1 000 learners at a time. We are involved in five of those schools in the Free State currently, with the Development Bank of Southern Africa as our implementing agent.”
DBI Consulting is also involved in the redesign of schools in Limpopo, North West and the Eastern Cape for the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.
Ditibane notes that, owing to the company’s experience in these educational infrastructure projects, it has developed efficient models of delivery for these projects.
These models assist in acquiring technology that enables DBI Consulting to deliver these projects at a cheaper rate than its competitors.
“These models include the deployment of technologies such as drones, which help with survey information. We also have a strong geographic information system (GIS) engine and a coordinated system of delivery that is anchored in our ISO 9001-certified systems.”
These models of delivery enable DBI Consulting to have a readily available supply of information, which is then refined through site visits to confirm the accuracy of site information.
“Education infrastructure project delivery can be done for a reasonable amount of money. Government hasn’t engaged the construction industry, or services providers such as us, to understand how we can incorporate best-in-breed technologies and processes that are aligned with the Public Finance Management Act of 1999, and the requirements of the Auditor-General of South Africa.”
Ditibane points out that DBI Consulting has been regularly involved in sanitation projects for education facilities, in collaboration with nonprofit organisation (NPO) Water Aid, for the past three years.
Water Aid funded these sanitation projects, while project management and technical services were rendered by NPO Tsogang and DBI Consortium.
These projects have been delivered in the Vhembe, Capricorn and Sekhukhune district municipalities, in Limpopo. DBI Consulting has been allocated and had to complete about six schools for each year in this time.
Ditibane adds that planning for these projects would often involve conducting a geotechnical investigation, as well as a geohydrological investigation for borehole sitings and equipping.
DBI Consulting would then conduct the rollout and close of the sanitation project, as such a project would often take about six months to complete.
“We run a competitive supply chain that subscribes to Section 217 of the Constitution in terms of fairness and procurement. We also implement these projects as community-based projects, as we use local contractors to supply materials and labour,” he concludes.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made $100 million available in grants for recycling infrastructure and recycling outreach and education projects across the county.
The agency has published two requests for applications for new recycling infrastructure and education grants totaling $70 million. EPA announced a new $30 million grant program for states and territories, as well.
According to a release, the new grant programs are intended to support improvements to local waste management systems, meeting Congress’ goal to create a “stronger, more resilient and cost-effective U.S. municipal solid waste recycling system.”
“Too many communities are burdened by pollution and the negative environmental and health impacts that result from poorly managed waste,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan says. “…The funding announced today will work hand in hand with our broader efforts to transform recycling and solid waste management across the nation and deliver economic and environmental benefits to those who need the most.”
The grants are funded by the Biden administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which invested $375 million in funding for new recycling, reuse and waste prevention programs.
The Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling Grant Program for which EPA is now seeking applications includes:
The Recycling Education and Outreach Grant Program for which EPA is now seeking applications includes:
Battery recycling and reuse
In addition to the residential recycling and outreach grants, the Biden administration also announced nearly $74 million in funding to advance technologies and processes for electric vehicle (EV) battery recycling and reuse. This funding also comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
According to a release announcing the initiative, more than 1.2 million EVs have been sold in the U.S, which is more than triple the number of EVs on the road roughly three years ago.
With demands for critical battery minerals, such as lithium and graphite, expected to increase by as much as 4,000 percent in the coming decades, the Biden administration says the latest round of funding will help accelerate battery production in America, mitigate battery supply chain disruptions and promote job creation.
This announcement builds on a prior $2.8 million funding allocated for domestic battery processing and component manufacturing.
“Recycling advanced batteries presents an enormous opportunity for America to support the creation of a secure and resilient domestic battery supply chain to reach our clean energy and transportation future,” says U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The historic investments of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are making it possible for cross-sector collaboration that will fuel America’s technological breakthroughs and eliminate our overreliance on other nations to meet our clean energy goals.”
Projects funded will lead to second-use scale-up demonstrations that integrate end-of-life EV batteries into secondary applications. This includes stationary energy storage systems and projects that focus on advanced materials separation, scale-up and reintegration of lithium-ion battery materials.
November 21, 2022 | 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will have to address gaps in infrastructure and education to achieve a high level of economic growth, according to global consultancy firm Bain and Co.
In an interview, Bain and Co. Southeast Asia founding partner Charles Ormiston said addressing issues in infrastructure and education would enable the country to achieve high growth.
A report by Bain and Co. and Monk’s Hill Ventures’ Angsana Council released last month showed the Philippines is projected to grow by four to five percent annually over the next 10 years, making it among the top three performers in Southeast Asia.
Vietnam is expected to lead the charge with a projected annual growth of five to seven percent, while Indonesia is expected to grow by four to five percent annually in the next 10 years.
The Philippine government is aiming to achieve a 6.5 to 7.5 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth for this year.
From January to September, the economy grew by 7.7 percent.
For next year until 2028, the government has set a 6.5 to eight percent growth target.
Ormiston said the Philippines has under-invested in infrastructure in the past, with the report showing the country’s average public infrastructure investment as a percentage of GDP at two percent from 1960 to 1979, three percent from 1980 to 1999, and two percent from 2000 to 2019.
“So there is no doubt that if you can increase this infrastructure spend, it will be an enabler of high growth. But you still have this issue for the last 30 years, you have under-invested. So the bigger impact of this infrastructure spend are likely to take place say, three to five years after you begin initiating the spend,” he said.
He said education is another issue for the Philippines, with the country being the lowest performer in the Program for International Student Assessment, which measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges.
“This will take a fairly long time to address…You can’t just fix at the primary level and then wait for 30 years for it to translate to the economy. There needs to be a concerted effort to address locational training and basic skills,” he said, noting the government cannot do all the work alone, and the private sector will also have a role to play.
“It needs to be a cultural commitment to education and not just waiting for the government to build schools and provide teachers,” he said.
As the country’s agriculture sector has historically had low growth, he also said there is a need to Strengthen productivity in agriculture and to move people currently working in the sector towards higher value-added services and manufacturing.
While the recently enacted reforms that seek to ease foreign ownership restrictions in certain sectors such as telecommunications, transport and retail, are important in attracting foreign investors, he said the government would still have to address other factors affecting investment decisions, especially as the country is competing with its Southeast Asian neighbors that have well-honed programs for attracting foreign investments.
Among the recent reforms aimed at encouraging foreign investments to the Philippines are the passage into law of the amendments to the Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act and Retail Trade Liberalization Act.
“What the government needs to do is better understand how these (investment) decisions are made and they need to address all of the factors, regulation, stability to bring in duty-free key supplies, as well as spare parts or capital equipment, local financing is available or support for trained workers,” Ormiston said.
While he expects few investments to take place right away as a result of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement as it will take time for provisions of the mega trade deal to be fully executed, he said it would be a bad signal for the Philippines to opt out of the deal.
“By not signing up, you are sending the signal that you are not as committed to open trade as some of the other countries and so, it is dangerous to be outside the club even if that club isn’t necessarily the best club in the region,” he said.
The RCEP agreement was signed by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and trade partners China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand,
While the Philippines is among the countries that signed the RCEP, it has yet to get the Senate concurrence needed for the agreement to take effect.
He said if the Marcos administration does the right things over the next five years, the country may see high growth rates in the next decade.
“It will take that kind of forward looking administration to really achieve the benefits,” he said.
In Kyiv, residents prepare for daily blackouts. They’re typically staggered by neighborhood, and don’t happen all at once; four hours off, four hours on, like that, all day, a checkerboard of light and dark, hot and cold, across the capital. People in Kyiv can look up their addresses and check the weekly schedule, so they’ll remember when to charge their phones or take a shower. The planning helps, but it isn’t foolproof. The power can go out without warning. Russia can send in more missiles, as they did this week. In big apartment buildings, people leave food and water and diapers in the elevators, in case the electricity cuts off and a neighbor gets stuck, for who knows how long.
A version of this exists in other regions in Ukraine — Chernihiv, and Sumy, and elsewhere, many of which, like Kyiv, faced a barrage of Russian air strikes during October that targeted civilian and energy infrastructure, like power substations and transmission lines. In those October attacks, about 400 targets in 16 oblasts (regions) were damaged, including dozens of energy facilities, according to Ukrainian officials at the time.
On Tuesday, Russia launched another round of strikes, about 90 missiles, hitting at least 15 energy facilities across Ukraine. “Burnt residential buildings. Destroyed power plants again. Hundreds of cities were left without electricity, water, and heat. Internet traffic has fallen by two-thirds — imagine the scale,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an address to G20 leaders.
The scale of the destruction makes quick repairs impossible. Replacement parts are not often readily available. Energy infrastructure also remains vulnerable: A lot of it is big and out in the open; once hit by a missile and fixed, it can be hit again. “It’s not possible to repair quickly after it’s been damaged,” said Vladimir Shulmeister, founder of the Infrastructure Council NGO and former first deputy minister of infrastructure of Ukraine from 2014 to 2015. “There were some spare parts, some electric power stations has been repaired, but there will be new problems coming from the air.”
That is on top of all the other destruction Ukraine accumulated in months and months of war: houses and apartment buildings, bridges, roads, railways. There is always collateral damage in conflict, but Russia’s attacks on non-military critical and energy infrastructure are intentional. “This is not a new tactic for Russia,” said John Spencer, a retired Army officer and chair of urban warfare studies at the Madison Policy Forum. “If you think about what they did in Chechnya, and in Syria, to basically bring the civilian population to such despair that they’re willing to capitulate.”
Moscow’s targeting of infrastructure, which some have argued amounts to war crimes, is an effort to undermine Ukraine’s economy and deprive people of essential services — heat, water, electricity — as winter approaches. Russia is struggling against Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the east and south, and so Moscow is trying to extend the war and spread out that pain across Ukraine, not just in war zones. All of it will make Ukraine even more reliant on aid from the West, which is dealing with its own inflation and energy crises. “Russians are actually now acting very cruel, but also in a very well-thought-through way,” said Andriy Kobolyev, former chief executive officer of Ukraine’s largest national oil and gas company Naftogaz.
In areas closer to the fighting, the infrastructure destruction is even more extreme, but also harder to fully assess. Zelenskyy accused Russian troops of destroying “all the critical infrastructure: communications, water, heat, electricity,” before retreating from Kherson last week. In Mykolaiv, in southern Ukraine, Russia cut off the city’s water supply months ago; salt water had run through the taps for months, and potable water is now just being restored. Zelenskyy said in early November, before the latest round of air strikes, that Russian attacks damaged about 40 percent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure; precise data on how badly and where is hard to get, in part because Ukraine is closely guarding that information as a matter of national security.
Ukraine, so far, has been managing these challenges: stepping up public and private efforts to obtain and fund replacement parts, and deploying mitigation efforts like planned blackouts and urging Ukrainians to conserve energy. Officials have also told people who already fled the country they should not return because the energy system is stressed. “Ukrainians became energy efficient not by choice, but by war,” said Maryna Ilchuk, counsel in the Kyiv office of CMS Cameron McKenna LLC and board member of the Women’s Energy Club of Ukraine.
Ukraine does now have more advanced Western air-defense systems to help defend against Russian air bombardments; on Tuesday, an advisor to Zelenskyy said Ukraine shot down 70 of the 90 or so Russian missiles. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that its NASAMS air defense system, delivered recently, has had a “100 percent” success rate intercepting Russian missiles, and Ukraine is likely to push for more such systems to defend against Moscow’s onslaughts.
A lot remains unpredictable. Ukraine’s ability to withstand the winter depends on the things like the frequency and ferocity of Russian attacks, how effective its air defense systems are, or how cold the winter becomes. But the magnitude of the destruction so far, the difficulty of repairs, and Russia’s ability to continue to wage war against the same targets multiple times, means Ukraine will struggle to maintain and protect its infrastructure this winter, to keep the lights and heat on.
But, so far, Russia’s attacks have not diminished Ukrainian morale; if anything, it’s hardened attitudes against Russia, and any sort of negotiated settlement. “Ukrainians,” Shulmeister said, would “rather be frozen and not washed, than becoming part of Russia.”
Russian attacks in October damaged five of the six thermal power plants run by DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy investor. They had successfully undergone repairs. But after a pause of a few weeks, Russian again unleashed strikes on Tuesday.
During this latest wave, at least one of those plants was hit, and the rest were running at about 50 percent capacity, DTEK CEO Maxim Timchenko told Vox. As of Wednesday, DTEK is still assessing the scale of the damage.
Ukraine generates electricity through a few means — nuclear power, coal, and natural gas, mostly. Russia isn’t really attacking Ukraine’s ability to generate power, but taking out different limbs of the systems that help convert and carry and eventually distribute electricity to homes and businesses.
As experts said, power substations — which are basically the connector between the power-generating facilities to the distribution networks that get electricity to users — are a frequent target. “You have multiple ways to deliver electricity to a city, but all these delivery roads go through the substations. By damaging these large substations, they just cut those power lines effectively coming from power plants to cities,” said Dennis Sakva, a Kyiv-based energy sector analyst at Dragon Capital.
Russia is also targeting things like transmission lines that carry electricity, or transformers that transfer electricity from one circuity to another. Altogether, it means providers can’t deliver enough power to the cities and towns to meet the demand, and so they have to limit consumption with things like planned or “stabilization” blackouts. But if there’s a sudden spike in demand, or another substation or transmission line goes down, the lights, the water, the heat can go out, without notice.
And this isn’t just one substation or a few transmission lines; this is all over Ukraine — dozens and dozens of wounds to the network. “The scale of damages is so large that it makes it almost impossible for timely repairs and getting back to normal,” Sakva said.
Finding spare parts to make repairs is one of the biggest challenges. Energy companies don’t necessarily have huge stocks, and replacements can be difficult to produce. According to Kobolyev, the former energy chief, it can take months; the lead time for one large transformer, he said, is usually 12 months. Some of Ukraine’s infrastructure, like its coal-fired plants, were built during the Soviet era, adding to the difficulty of repairs. Timchenko, of DTEK, said they have to sometimes reallocate parts from other Ukrainian plants, or find similar models from other former Soviet states, like in Eastern Europe, that might have similar specifications. “The biggest concern is that we run out of stock, and it cannot be replaced,” Timchenko said.
Energy companies are coordinating with the Ukrainian government to seek emergency equipment donations from abroad, from private firms and governments, and then direct it to where repairs are most urgently needed. The wish-list includes things like power transformers, generators, pipes, insulators, and welding machines.
This acute scramble, of course, is piling on to the infrastructure struggles Ukraine has faced since Russia launched its full-on assault in Ukraine last February. Even in places like Kyiv, and its suburbs, where Russia retreated from in April, houses are still bombed out, roads still destroyed. In April, Ukrainian officials had estimated that about 30 percent of its transportation infrastructure was damaged, though, Shulmeister said, transport problems are easier to fix than energy ones.
Zaporizhzhia, the largest power plant in Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear plant, came under Russian control, and it shut down its reactors repeatedly because of fighting and safety concerns, cutting it off from the Ukrainian grid. Russian attacks have also taken out renewable energy infrastructure — as much as 50 percent of its solar capacity, and 90 percent of its wind turbines.
“These attacks against critical infrastructure — the reverberating effects for the civilian population have been massive so far,” said Alexander Grif, Ukraine country director for the Center for Civilians in Conflict. “And we have not even entered winter in Ukraine.”
Ukrainian officials called Russia’s latest barrage the worst of the war to date. It will stress a system already struggling from October’s attacks, with few parts of society or the economy spared.
For civilians, the power going out, of course, means you don’t have lights or television or an internet connection for a few hours. If you use gas for cooking, a few people said, you’re now one of the lucky ones. But electricity is also key to keeping other utilities running, like water and heat. District heating, often used in cities, depends on electric pumps to move hot water, which is used to heat homes; approximately 53 percent of urban households in Ukraine rely on such systems as their main heating source during the winter. As Sakva pointed out, if the heat and water go out, pipes might freeze up, and then when they thaw, it can create a humanitarian disaster. A big city without a water supply is also a sanitation hazard, as it creates hygienic risks and people lack clean drinking water.
Some people in Kyiv said, right now, the indoors can feel like the outdoors. But the coldest months are not here yet; the temperature in January and February hovers around 30 degrees Fahrenheit in Kyiv. Homes damaged by strikes — blown out windows, or broken pipes — would be hard to heat even if utilities were working at full capacity.
Right now, the priority is getting the most urgent systems up and running. “We are trying to restore the assets that are required immediately to survive during the winter period. So pipes, heating tubes, heated infrastructure, electricity infrastructure, and things like that,” said Vladyslava Grudova, who is tracking infrastructure damages as co-head of the project damaged.in.ua.
The full extent of destruction Russia has unleashed on critical energy infrastructure is hard to fully gauge. Experts and analysts told me that, especially since the Kremlin is targeting these elements, Ukraine is closely protecting that information, though official statements and industry data — along with the realities of everyday Ukrainians — offer at least some clues.
As of September, estimates of damage to energy infrastructure landed somewhere around $13.4 billion, but that predates Russia’s October and November assaults, which means the figure is likely much higher. The Kyiv School of Economics, which is in the process of revising their data for October, estimates about $127 billion in total infrastructure damage as of September 1, with about $50 billion of that just housing costs alone. In September, the World Bank assessed Ukraine’s physical damage at about $97 billion, with the total rebuilding costs somewhere closer to $350 billion.
Ukraine will need economic and humanitarian aid to get through the winter — generators, and winter coats, and clean water supplies, which are being delivered, though the scale of which is still unclear. Strikes and shelling make the delivery of that aid more challenging, too. Authorities are trying to come up with back-up plans, including emergency heating centers and warnings to stock up on firewood as an alternative heating source, although as someone pointed out, it’s not like you can lug a wood-burning stove up to your high-rise apartment.
Energy analysts and experts also say that military aid matters here, too, specifically air defense systems that allow Ukraine to intercept Russian strikes. These systems can’t cover everything, but as Spencer said, they do help Ukraine protect the critical infrastructure in major cities, which is exactly what Putin is attacking.
And these energy problems are directly connected to that battle for Ukrainian territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin has targeted civilian infrastructure in response to Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which has successfully wrested back some Russian-controlled territory in the east and south. Ukraine is trying to push ahead to make as many gains as possible ahead of winter, when cold weather and frozen ground and lack of coverage will change the nature of the fighting, and force both sides to adjust tactics.
But Russia sees these attacks on critical systems as a strategy to grind down Ukraine, which means the risk of more destruction will persist. A crippled energy infrastructure will affect every corner of Ukraine, as it disrupts communication and transport networks, banking and postal networks, and food and agricultural production. That will threaten to displace more people and create pockets of humanitarian emergencies.
All of these vulnerabilities may also make it harder for Ukraine to wage war on the front lines, in what will be, no matter what, a very long winter.
BERA: The government's focus on the development of the Orang Asli community is based on three core aspects, namely infrastructure, education and generating income, says caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
He said the government’s commitment to this was reflected in the RM305mil allocation provided specifically for the Orang Asli community in Budget 2023, compared to RM274mil for this year.
"The government also intends to resolve the issue of scattered villages by developing more new settlements. The villages to be developed will be more attractive and equipped with the necessary infrastructure.
"Just like this village... however, sometimes there are villages opened in isolated locations. And that is why we have to open up more new villages," he said after attending the 'Moh Ngeteh' programme at the Sungai Tuang Orang Asli settlement here on Sunday (Nov 6).
Ismail Sabri also emphasised that the government always focused on the issue of education for Orang Asli children, because he believed that education was the best platform for a person to change the fate of himself and his family for the better.
As an example, Ismail Sabri cited programmes implemented under the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) that sent qualified young members of the Orang Asli community for tertiary studies abroad.
The government also planned to implement various assistance programmes as well as initiatives for the Orang Asli community to Strengthen their economic status, including entrepreneurship programmes involving training, skills and guidance to ensure projects implemented bring results.
In a separate programme, Ismail Sabri said details for the location and development of the drag racing circuit for motorsports in Bera would be announced after the 15th general election (GE15), given that the district was one of the identified locations for a circuit when Budget 2023 was announced on Oct 7.
"The district office has been asked to look for a suitable location (for the circuit) and we will also have to retable the budget for approval as Parliament was dissolved before it could be passed," he said after attending the "Ride Amal dan Ride to Jannah 4.0" programme at Felda Bukit Mendi, Kemayan near here.
The construction of a circuit in each state with an allocation of RM20mil was to encourage youths to participate in motorsports through the right platform. - Bernama