The three contractors have begun preparatory works on the four-lane highway from Providence to Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara and residents and other stakeholders have been assured of minimal disruption.
The East Bank extension project, which covers approximately eight kilometres of roadway, is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in collaboration with the Government of Guyana at an approximate cost of US$17M.
The commencement date for the project was November 1, 2011.
According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), Highway Engineer in the Ministry of Public Works and Communication Ron Rahaman has said that the project is divided into lots being executed by DIPCON Engineering; General Earth Movers in association with GIACO construction; and BK International.
He told GINA that DIPCON Engineering has commenced excavation works and back filling of the ditch area in the Lot One stretch, to accommodate the wind change, which will be used for settlement control. General Earth Movers in association with GIACO construction has completed the laying out of the road in the cane field section of Lot Two and excavation work is expected to begin shortly in that area. BK International, meanwhile, has commenced excavation work in the commercial area of Diamond.
On Monday, the Multi-Stakeholder Committee for the project held a meeting for a status report and to discuss pertinent issues and concerns of representatives on the committee.
Project Community Liaison Officer Bernice Obasi assured stakeholders that all concerns about possible negative impact on residents and other stakeholders during the project construction will be addressed through her office with the relevant bodies. She encouraged members to report all concerns to her office. Obasi stated that the project obligates the contractors to hold meetings with the community for its duration, considering the importance of community engagement and the environmental aspect of the project.
“People must be at the heart of engagement or we fail,” she said, but lamented the poor turnout at the first community meeting held by the contractor with residents.
Komal Singh, contractor of GAICO Construction, which is executing works on Lot Two of the project, is encouraging stakeholders to voice their concerns to the company’s office. “You must feel free to come to us and lay all concerns,” he urged. With regards to concerns about disrupting bridges, and other utilities, Singh assured that as the project progresses he would be meeting residents of the community to make them aware of the extent of disruption that could be expected and the plan of action the contractors have to assist them to mitigate the disruption. Construction Manager of DIPCON Engineering Latchman Bhagwandass also assured that the company will not set any dangerous precedent but will work in cohesion with the utility companies, such as the Guyana Power and Light and the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company, during construction, so as to reduce the chances of such incidents occurring.
Project Consultant in the Ministry of Public Works Rabindranauth Chandarpal, in response to concerns about poor lighting and visibility and congestion at the project site, explained that the project was designed to facilitate construction while maintaining two lanes for traffic. He said that the contractors through their management plan have to be creative in this regard in order to ensure that the traffic build-up and congestion is not worsened.