Government wants to spend over $30 billion this year improving Guyana’s public infrastructure and transportation systems, according to budget 2014.
Roads and bridges, air and river transport systems, drainage and irrigation systems, and sea and river defences are all to be overhauled or built from scratch utilizing these funds if the National Assembly votes to pass the budget.
Roads and Bridges
Specifically, $13.7 billion worth of work will be carried out on roads and bridges – $12.9 billion to be spent on roads and $844.2 billion on bridges. While presenting the budget to the National Assembly on Monday, Finance Minister Ashni Singh said that feasibility studies and designs towards further extending the East Bank highway, from Diamond to Timehri, will be undertaken during the course of the year.
Currently, projects are ongoing to convert a section of the East Bank highway – from Providence to Diamond – from a two-lane highway to a four-lane highway. There are three lots along the stretch, all of which are being done by separate contractors. Similar works are ongoing in Timehri.
These works, according to the Works Ministry’s Manager of Roads and Bridges Department Ron Rahaman will be completed in the third quarter of this year. The works, the contracts for which were tendered since 2011, were supposed to be completed since March 2013. A plethora of setbacks led to the need, on several occasions, to reconsider the deadlines.
Government also wants to commence work on the “West Coast Demerara road and (these works) will include pavement rehabilitation, pedestrian and cycle lanes in selected high traffic areas, and street lighting.”
Also, the stretch of road from Better Hope to Belfield, East Coast Demerara, is to be widened and Singh said that this will commence during the course of the year. Government also wants to undertake to construct the Parika/Ruby backdam roads “thus opening access to over 330 farming households and over 2,000 acres of mixed crop farming. Additionally, engineering designs for works to the Canal Polder No. 1 and 2 roads are in the pipelines.
“On the East Bank of Berbice, studies and designs will be completed and the complete reconstruction of 6 kilometers from Stanleytown to Everton and upgrade of 11.5 kilometers from Belle Vue to light town will commence,” said Singh.
A financial feasibility study for the construction of a bypass road from Ogle to Eccles is set to be completed this year, and Singh says the new route will open up new areas for development and investment, in addition to creating an alternate route along the East Bank to alleviate traffic congestion. The minister said that the completion of these works will also constitute the first phase in the development of an alternate route from the Ogle International Airport to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
Roads in rural communities and hinterland locations will be upgraded at a cost of $7.7 billion, while street lighting is added from Belle Vue to Patentia.
Singh also reported that Guyanese and Brazilian technical teams have made headway regarding the development of a design for the Linden-Lethem road.
Meanwhile, the needed assessments, including a cost benefit analysis, for “a rail link to connect with the deep water harbour and container port on the Berbice River, will be completed,” Singh told his fellow parliamentarians.
He said that there has been a collaborative effort between Guyana and Suriname for the construction of a fixed bridge across the Corentyne River, and that resources have been “budgeted to upgrade the road link from Springlands to Moleson Creek and to prepare the bridge terminal facility.”
“Further, the feasibility study for the new Demerara Harbour Bridge has been completed, and Government has invited expressions of interest for a public-private partnership for its construction and budgeted $338 million for critical works to extend the life of the Demerara Harbour Bridge,” the minister explained.
Drainage and Irrigation
Government has allocated $6.9 billion to complete drainage and irrigation structures for the “Northern Relief Channel Project, the completion of the Hope/Dochfour public road bridge, and the construction of nine new drainage pump stations at Winsdor Forest, Canal Polder, Pine Ground, No. 66 Village, Paradise, Gangaram. Eversham, No.43 Village and Lima,” Singh continued.
Government will also be looking to use the funds to complete the rehabilitation of intake structures and sluices, and the execution of other works at Ann’s Grove, Hope, Annandale, and Nancy. He also alluded to an upcoming project which will be aimed at improving the efficient management of the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC), and in so doing, reduce the potential for flooding.
Air and River Transport
$6.6 billion of the overall amount is allocated specifically for the CJIA, Timehri. This will include the relocating of the Guyana Defence Force engineering division from Timehri. Also, hinterland airstrips have been allocated $231.1 million to enable rehabilitation and maintenance works. A further $773.9 million has been put in the budget for “dredging equipment, ferry vessels, spares and the rehabilitation of stellings.”
Sea and River Defence
Finally, $1.9 billion “is budgeted to ensure the further strengthening of our sea and river defence infrastructure. Critical works will be done in Regions 2-7,” Singh announced. The allocation will allow for the continuation of the mangrove restoration and replanting programme which will see the planting of 50,000 mangrove seedlings, spartina grassing in selected areas, the construction of geotextile breakwater structures, and the hydrological restoration of Wellington Park mangrove site.
Singh said that government is looking to expend over $65 million over the next five years improving protective infrastructure on the coast. Such improvements, he specified, are to include “construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of more than 80 kilometers of sea and river defense infrastructure, the implementation of an integrated shore zone management system that will enhance resilience to coastal and riverain hazards, and integrated flood risk preparedness strategies.”