Suriname may fund Corentyne River bridge

Suriname may possibly fund the construction of a bridge across the Corentyne River, the country’s Public Works Minister Ramon Abraham has told its Parliament.

According to reports in the Surinamese media, Abraham, during his budget presentation, had said that Guyana would be responsible for building the roads here that lead to the site.

Dutch company Ballast Nedam has been linked with the project, and Abraham told the Parliament that a location for the bridge has already been identified.  Abraham said that when the extensive soil survey at the proposed site has been carried out and the final design for the bridge completed, the cost of the bridge would be known.

Contacted last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett would only say that discussions were ongoing and that no final decision has been made.

She said the government was pleased with the discussions so far and that both countries are “committed to completing this vital link.”

When Surinamese President Desi Bouterse had travelled to Guyana on September 6 last year, he and President Bharrat Jagdeo announced that they had agreed to conduct a feasibility study into bridging the Corentyne River.

The construction of the bridge was described as one of “vital importance” which would “further physically integrate” South America.  Jagdeo said that if the countries were to depend only on the multilateral framework, it would take a long time so it was decided that this would be approached on a bilateral level.

The feasibility study, Jagdeo said, would not only look at the cost of the project but also at its likely development impact.

During his presidential campaign last year, Bouterse had promised to build a bridge across the Corentyne River should he be elected.

Later that month, Jagdeo said that he and Bouterse had agreed to move expeditiously on the project and that they both wanted to start the bridge this year. Jagdeo said that once the technical assessments were completed, the issue of finances for the project would then be addressed by the two countries.

When Bouterse returned to Guyana in November 2010, as part of an exchange trip with President Jagdeo, the latter announced that within two weeks a team comprising Guyanese and Surinamese would be meeting on the technical issues that would be pivotal to the soliciting of bids for the bridge across the Corentyne River.

The heads, according to GINA, had said that erecting the bridge across the border river was high on their agenda to facilitate trade and other bilateral ties.

It was said then too that Chinese investment was being sought to construct the bridge.

“Sites for the structure and technical specifications would be looked at by the committee following which, “we will then seek proposals from various sources, and we hope those proposals will involve some financing options and then we will make a determination and hopefully, move forward with the bridge,” Jagdeo had said.

He said that a clear case has been made for the bridge’s construction when one looks at the time taken to travel on the ferry MV Canawaima.

“If you look at all the time wasted and you put a cost to that time, it makes the project feasible.
It may pay back for the project itself, just from cutting the time wasted,” Jagdeo reportedly said.

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