A Dutch consultancy firm has been selected to conduct a feasibility study for the construction of a new bridge across the Demerara River, according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who said that the design, location and financing options are among the things to be addressed.
Harmon identified the firm as LievenseCSO and he also said the study is the final stage of the process before construction starts.
Speaking during a post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency, Harmon yesterday noted that Cabinet this week approved a request by Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson for the feasibility study to be conducted. He reminded that a pre-feasibility study was done by the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation in collaboration with the Public Infrastructure Ministry in 2013. That study, he said, concluded that a new high level fixed bridge was the best option to be pursued.
The existing bridge has been in operation since 1978. The design and construction of a new bridge has been under discussion for some time in light of concerns about the design life of the existing bridge, although these have been questioned.
During this year, Harmon said, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure advertised for suitable consultants to conduct a feasibility study that would lead up to the construction of the bridge through a private-public partnership model.
According to Harmon, the ministry has since received an offer from LievenseCSO, which is a recognized Dutch consultancy firm, to conduct the feasibility study and design for the new bridge as well as a detailed investigation for prospective financiers and the preparation of a private-public partnership tender document. He said that it is expected that the feasibility study will commence in January, 2017.
While he knew when the study will start, Harmon was unable to say when the study is expected to be completed. “But based on the extent of the work that has to be done, we are advised that they would basically try to push it so at least we can have a bridge in a reasonable time,” he said.
He was unable to confirm the proposed location of the new bridge.
Explaining the need for a second feasibility study, he said that in these types of constructions, there is a pre-feasibility study, followed by a feasibility study. “So we are at the second stage. The pre-feasibility examines several things that are required to be examined and they sort of narrow down the option of the feasibility. So the feasibility has a more limited area, which they have to consider….the model, the private-public partnership model….the tender documents, they have to look at various sites, the sites that might have been in the prefeasibility and to actually determine whether in fact this is something we can go forward with. This is the final stage of feasibility before you actually get to construction,” he pointed out.