IJM inaugurates ‘record-setting’ Solapur-Bijapur tollway in India

Malaysian construction company IJM Corporation Berhad has announced the opening of the Solapur-Bijapur tollway built by its Indian arm, IJM (India) Infrastructure Limited. The inauguration ceremony took place last month on 25 April in Solapur, Maharashtra state.

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) awarded a 20-year concession contract to IJM India to develop the Solapur-Bijapur section of the new National Highway 52 between the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

At RM1.5 billion (INR 2,325 crores), the four-lane, 110-km tollway was the largest Indian project undertaken by IJM in value and one of the largest contracts awarded by NHAI on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis.

The project involved the rehabilitation, upgrading and widening of the existing two-lane carriageway to four-lane standards with bypasses, and the construction of flyovers, bridges, road intersections and railway overbridges as well as the operation and maintenance of two toll plazas.

The construction of the tollway began in November 2018 and was provisionally completed in 38 months. IJM said despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as movement restriction orders, incorporating more stringent standard operating procedures on health and safety and supply chain disruptions, the project was successfully completed ahead of schedule.

Provisional commercial operations and tolling commenced in December 2021. To date, actual traffic volume and revenue are in line with projection, and the project has generated positive operational cash flows since tolling commenced, according to IJM.

Connecting southern and northern India via the Solapur-Bijapur stretch with bypasses and six flyovers, the tollway enables greater convenience on the road – resulting in reduced travel time and cost, and increased ride quality for the high-density commercial vehicle corridor between the major Indian cities of Bangalore (Karnataka state) and Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh state).

’Record setting’

IJM shared that in February 2021, IJM India set a national record of laying bituminous concrete on 25.54 lane kilometers in a short span of 18 hours for the Solapur-Bijapur highway.

The Indian government adopts the lane-kilometre concept to measure highways instead of the traditional linear method. Under this concept, the length of each lane built is measured instead of counting the overall length of the highway.

This is the first time in the history of NHAI projects that such a feat has been attempted and achieved by any construction company in India, said IJM. This achievement has gained entry into the Limca Book of Records 2020-2022 (India’s version of the Guinness Book of World Records) and Asia Book of Records.

This year, IJM India was awarded the Achievement Award for the Best Professionally Managed Company in Construction and the Achievement Award for Best Project for the Solapur-Bijapur road project by the Construction Industry Development Council (CIDC) of India at the 13th CIDC Vishwakarma Awards, IJM further revealed.

“I would like to congratulate our IJM India team and thank them for their round-the-clock dedication in completing the project. The accomplishments and timely completion of this project reaffirms our capabilities and track record as a builder of choice and high-performance concessionaire,” said Liew Hau Seng, CEO and managing director of IJM Corporation Berhad.

“Apart from providing earnings visibility and serving as a long-term growth driver that the completion of the Solapur-Bijapur tollway accords the Group, we are proud to have played a role in expediting the improvement of infrastructure in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Mr Liew added, “Efficient and convenient toll highways are essential to complement any government’s efforts to improve its country’s infrastructure development. With a stable of prominent projects completed in India in recent years, IJM India has emerged as a premier DBFOT specialist and have set standards for road construction in the country’s infrastructure sector.” 

IJM India currently operates three tolled highways locally — the 110 km Solapur-Bijapur tollway, 68 km Chilkaluripet-Vijayawada tollway and 19.8 km Dewas Bypass tollway. Since 1998, IJM India has delivered several major road projects totalling more than 1,500 route kilometres along with 20 km of urban rail projects as well as 20.20 mil sq ft of prime residential and commercial development in India. 

All images: IJM