Arup and Mace are gaining a foothold in the South American market, thanks to an agreement between the British government and the organisers of the 2019 Pan American Games.
A team of consultants and contractors is getting a foothold in South America, following a partnership agreement between the British and Peruvian governments to deliver a major sporting event.
On the back of the London 2012 Summer Olympics, the British government has paved the way for Mace and Arup to help deliver the 2019 Pan American games in Peru. This is now propelling the two firms into new and otherwise “daunting” markets in South America.
World’s fourth largest sporting event
The 2019 Pan American Games will be hosted in Peru’s capital Lima for the first time next July. The country has to deliver accommodation and sporting infrastructure for 10,000 athletes and 39 different sports.
It is the fourth largest sporting event in the world and the UK is lead delivery partner for infrastructure and organisation, following an agreement signed in April 2017 between the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the games organisers, which said that Britain would bring its 2012 expertise to the event.
With only two years to turn around a struggling construction programme, the British government drafted in Mace and Arup to put in place a new delivery model to ensure the games open on time. The event is the first time Peruvian authorities have delivered event infrastructure on this scale, and at the time of the agreement between the two governments, it was clear to the UK team that a significant of work had to get underway quickly so facilities could be ready by the opening ceremony. For example design work on the 1,000 unit athletes village had not even started.
Athletes village in construction
Arup director of global planning and cities leader Jerome Frost says the backing of the British government allowed a “greater sense of partnership” with the Peruvian government than if it had bid on
“It supports what the government is trying to achieve in having more of a partnering relationship in business and much more of a global presence for British businesses,” says Frost.
Mace transport and major programmes consultancy director Davendra Dabasia says the firm had been tracking the games project, but before the 2017 UK/Peru agreement, it believed the risks associated with venturing into the South American market, especially concerning taxation and language, were too great.
Integrated team approach
“Our approach is an integrated team approach,” added Dabasia. “The Peruvian authorities still have the delivery responsibility, but we’re there to give them advice on how to do that and are there step by step with them. Their project managers are learning from ours.”
Dabasia estimates that around 60% of the facilities constructed for the 2012 London Olympics must be built in Lima, but in half the time.
Most of the sporting facilities are at the new National Sports Village (Videna), the main competition venue during the Games. The Videna includes a 15,000 capacity athletics stadium, an aquatics centre, and a new sports centre with retractable stands. Work also includes a 1,000 unit athletes village.
Hundreds of workers, including engineers, architects and construction workers are working 24 hours a day in shifts to get the sporting infrastructure ready in time.
Panoramic view of the progress made in the construction of the callao sports center
Mace and Arup say a key part of getting the process going was to open up the procurement process by introducing the NEC3 contract to Peru.
This allowed the team to tackle one of the major issues for companies working in previously volatile markets: corruption.
“There have been so many corruption scandals there, no one tendered for jobs because they thought it was a done deal,” says Dabasia. “So, using the new process, we’ve added transparency to that and now we’ve got several companies bidding.”
Mace and Arup have relocated staff to Lima, with Dabasia saying because of the relationships which have been built up, 80% would stay given the chance. Frost agrees.
“A lot of the staff that we’ve deployed to Peru are fluent Spanish speakers and we’ve moved our staff there from all over the world,” says Frost. “It’s been really interesting for us in understanding how we can apply our true global reach to a project like this.”
Wider benefits of Games work
Frost says the team is also trying to get bidding contractors to understand the wider benefits of working on such a huge project.
“One of the greatest legacies of the 2012 Olympic Games was that confidence in the construction industry being able to deliver was restored,” says Frost.
“That has gone on to allow it to bid internationally with a strong credibility and reputation, and put it on a global stage with more opportunities and potential for growth.
“We’re trying to impart to them that rather than seeing working on a big event as a risk, they should see it as an opportunity.”
Mace and Arup now see their work in Peru opening doors in other South American markets.
Showcase for skills
“We see around five or 10 years ahead, where we can showcase project management skills on major infrastructure schemes in places like Peru, Chile, Panama potentially and Colombia,” says Dabasia.
“In Colombia they have a big spend, with lots of metros and aviation projects. That’s where we can really help infrastructure progress in South America but also drive Mace as a business into those markets.”
Likewise, Frost says Arup is already in talks to carry out further works in South America.
“Colleagues of mine are already in meetings to look at infrastructure projects around Peru and South America where we might build on the legacy of this project and hopefully that will start to yield opportunities.”
The games set-up model is also something which the companies are looking to export.
“Almost anywhere in the world when they host the games, they’re doing it for the first time and the people involved won’t have the experience,” says Frost. “There’s a lot of experience that you can take anywhere, whether it’s in a developing or developed world context, as some of those issues are the same.
“It’s always a very high price tag and you can spend the money and not gain anything from it, or you can really think about how you realise the value of the logistic planning and the investment in the industry and the city. If you think of it in that way you can achieve so much more.”