Government anticipates spending $11.8 billion this year to sustain and improve roads and bridges including $2.4 billion for the upgrade of 85 kilometres of existing roads and construction of 110 kilometres of virgin roads from Mabura Hill Road to Amaila Falls.
Last year, $8.7 billion was expended on the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of the land transport network, of which $6.9 billion was spent on roads and $1.8 billion on bridges. This year’s allocation will see $10.9 billion being spent on roads and $964 million on bridges.
During his presentation of the 2012 budget to the National Assembly on Friday, Minister of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh said that this year $1.3 billion will be expended on the completion of 30.5 kilometres of all-weather roads in Black Bush Polder, East and West Canje to improve access to over 18,500 acres of agricultural land. Last year, $1 billion was expended on the completion of 23 kilometres of all weather roads in those areas.
$2.2 billion has been allocated for the upgrade, modernisation and expansion of the Four Lane Access Road to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, the Sheriff/Mandela Roadway, the extension of the four lane highway from Providence to Diamond and the widening of the highway from Better Hope to Golden Grove on the East Coast Demerara.
Last year, the government spent $1.7 billion on designs for widening Sheriff Street to Mandela Avenue and on preparatory works for the widening of the East Coast Demerara Four Lane Highway between Better Hope and La Bonne Intention. In addition, preliminary works on the widening of the East Bank Demerara Four Lane highway from Providence to Diamond and the upgrade of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport access road are ongoing.
The minister said that this year studies and designs will be prepared for the extension of the four-lane highway from Better Hope to Golden Grove, from Diamond to Timehri and for the Georgetown-Lethem road. $5.5 billion has been allocated to construct, rehabilitate and maintain urban, rural, community, and hinterland roads.
In addition, $545 million has been allocated for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 20 critical structures from Belladrum to Rosignol, and for the rehabilitation of pontoons and cluster piles to extend the life of the Demerara Harbour Bridge.
In the river transport sector, Singh said that this year, over $717 million has been budgeted for the docking of vessels and acquisition of spares.
The Parika and Supenaam stellings will be completed to accept the new roll-on roll-off ferries, the Sanbanto and the Kanawan, which will each accommodate 800 passengers, 44 cars or 20 trucks and will create a more efficient and convenient river transport system, he said. Last year, $416 million was spent towards the modification of the Parika and Supenaam stellings to accommodate the new roll-on roll-off ferries. $482 million was spent to strengthen maritime infrastructure and to purchase navigational aids and critical spares.
In terms of sea and river defence, $2.9 billion is budgeted for the continued protection of these defences. Critical and emergency works will be carried out in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, and the replanting, restoration and protection of 10 kilometres of mangrove is targeted for Regions 2, 3, and 4. Government will also continue to implement its five-year National Mangrove Management Action Plan for the protection of mangroves against human degradation, the minister said.
In terms of drainage and irrigation, the minister said that government is developing a comprehensive hydrologic and hydraulic model of the East Demerara Water Conservancy in order to better manage the water level. For this year, $7.8 billion has been budgeted for the continuation of work on the drainage and irrigation systems. This will see the Northern Relief Channel being advanced, along with the rehabilitation of the Cunha canal and the design and development of a hydrological model intended to monitor the flood plain. “Further, eight super-long reach excavators and two pontoons will be procured and several intake structures and relief sluices will be rehabilitated.
Additionally, eight pump stations will be constructed and eight fixed pumps will be procured to drain a total of 56,000 hectares of lands in Windsor Forest, Cane Grove, Paradise, Enterprise, Black Bush Polder, Skeldon, Albion and Rose Hall, while another six mobile pumps will be used for drainage interventions as the need arises,” the minister said.
Last year, the government spent $6.7 billion on the drainage and irrigation systems which included works on the construction of the head regulator, relief sluice outfall structure, public road bridge, and earthworks for the 10.3 kilometres Northern Relief Channel at Hope/Dochfour. $234 million was spent to procure excavators and bulldozers for the Aurora Land Development Project.
In terms of hydrometeorology, Singh said that $391 million has been allocated for the continued modernisation and expansion of the hydrometeorological network through the acquisition of a satellite receiving system to provide real time satellite images of approaching and developing weather systems. “The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) will also provide support for ten automated stations to be installed at a number of interior locations, allowing for the automatic collection and transmission of data to a central data collection portal in Georgetown,” he said.