A $2 billion bridge across the Demerara River at Linden, the upgrade of wharves across the country and the construction of a waterfront at the Stabroek Market are among a range of infrastructural projects that government hopes to fund with grant resources from the United Kingdom.
“You don’t want to centre everything in one region. All the regions must be able to benefit from this grant,” junior Minister of Public Infrastructure Annette Ferguson told Stabroek News in an interview last week. “Proposals were submitted and we are awaiting feedback from the donor agency…once we get the go-ahead, you know, the approval of the projects will begin,” she said.
“Some will kick off in 2018, some 2019, and so forth,” the minister added. She said because of the detailed analysis and scrutiny the proposals will have to undergo, the timeline for actual estimated commencement of the projects has been set for 2018.
Guyana has been allocated £53.2 million (around $16 billion) by the UK under its £300 million United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund (UKCIF). UKCIF is an ambitious investment undertaken by the UK, which will provide grant funding to improve or create new infrastructure such as roads, bridges and ports to help drive economic growth and development in nine countries across the Caribbean region. UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced the launch of the £300 million fund during his trip to Jamaica in September last year.
Stabroek News reported in April that the Government of Guyana has identified and submitted project proposals for six major infrastructure development programmes to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) which is responsible for administering the Fund.
Previously, the Ministry of Finance had announced that the funds will be applied to six major infrastructure programmes including waterfront development, water supply improvement and solid waste management. “The identified interventions will see improved road networks, bridges, stellings and waterfronts, rehabilitation of airstrips, reliable access to potable water and reduced energy costs as well as tackle the environmental and health risks associated with the improper disposal of waste,” it had said. This was echoed by Ferguson who gave a breakdown of how government plans to utilise the funding.
She said that government has submitted proposals to the CDB and is confident that most would be accepted. She said that government has made provisions for an extended approvals process and is prepared to tweak the projects if necessary. However, the minister said that the administration hopes to commence execution of the projects by 2018.
“It is mainly for infrastructural projects. We are talking about a series of projects countrywide…there is the rehabilitation of the T&HD stellings, the Georgetown wharf in particular will see rehabilitation and we are seeking to have floating ramps for the river taxis that ply the Georgetown to Vreed-en-Hoop route,” the minister said.
The waterfront and port development projects at the Stabroek Market are estimated to cost some US$4.96 million, according to information provided by Ferguson.
Under stellings and wharf development, upgrades have also been proposed for the Parika stelling which is pegged at about US$2.12 million, the Kumaka stelling for US$7.1 million, the Bartica stelling at a price tag of US$1.45 million and the Port Kaituma wharf for US$4.95 million.
Ferguson said government also wants to acquire a dredge to be used for works in the Port Georgetown area. The proposed price tag is US$11.33 million.
Under roads and bridges, approximately US$9.91 million has been submitted as the cost for the construction of a new bridge across the Demerara River at Wismar in Region 10.
Under sea and river defences and recreational facilities – a broad project name for a series of infrastructural works countrywide – government wants to see works being done between Kingston and Ogle in Region 4 and construction of facilities for speedboat operators in Region 2.
“At Supenaam, when you disembark from the speedboats, there are not any proper waiting facilities so this project will see waiting facilities put in place so that our people can be comfortable,” Ferguson asserted.
She said there are many projects for Region 6 which include road and other works at Skeldon.
Meantime, over US$12 million has been proposed for airport and aerodrome development in mostly Regions 7, 8 and 9. “So we are looking at Mahdia, Region 8; Ekereku, Region 7; Lethem, Region 9 and Annai also in that region. There is also the planned resurfacing of the Bartica Airstrip in Region 7 and altogether, we have proposed US$12.03 million,” the junior Minister said.
A tentative project on government’s list is the building of a boardwalk between Kingston and Kitty in Georgetown but no figures have yet been identified.
Ferguson said she wanted to publicly express government’s gratitude to the UK for the grant and promised that it would be used through a transparent process.
“It is a grant and so taxpayers and the people of Guyana will not be burdened by a loan borrowed. We are thankful that the UK would have seen it fit to come and give this grant which I can’t express enough, how it will significantly benefit the people of Guyana. So on behalf of government who are by extension, the people of Guyana, I just want to say a heartfelt thank you to the UK,” Ferguson said.
British High Commissioner to Guyana Greg Quinn had said on May 31 that two projects on improving the water supply and hinterland airstrips here are under active consideration by the CDB. “It will take some time for the CDB and us…to assess the project bids so we’re talking about probably months before a final decision is taken to allow things to start,” he had said.