Linden-Lethem road project to begin next year

- Jordan

The first phase of the long-awaited Linden to Lethem road project will commence next year, Finance Minister Winston Jordan announced yesterday.

Jordan, who was at the time speaking about “infrastructure for integration” during his presentation of the proposed 2017 budget, said that the project will span from Linden to Mabura Hill.

No information was given about the estimated cost.

However, Jordan told the National Assembly that an infrastructure network that can support rapid economic development requires huge capital investments. “This is especially true of Guyana, with its sparsely populated town and village centres scattered over its 214,970 square kilometres,” he said, before adding that in recognition of this, government has allocated $37.2 billion to narrow the infrastructure deficit in the country, even as it pursues other financing options, including public-private partnerships, for the large scale transformative projects.

He said that Guyana has been waiting for over five decades to bridge the coastal and hinterland divide, and create that link between Linden and Lethem. Jordan informed that a recent Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) market demand study has reinforced that this corridor is “essential” for creating a link between the road and sea transportation networks.

“We intend to exploit the competitive advantage of our strategic geo-physical and geo-political location on the South American mainland along the Atlantic Coast,” he said, while noting that it is in this regard that government will commence the Linden to Lethem Road project.

Also on the cards, he said, are the commencement of work on a permanent fixed bridge across the Essequibo River at Kurupukari; seeking funding to construct a road from Parika to Goshen, followed by the construction of a bridge from Monkey Jump to Bartica; resurfacing and rehabilitation, where necessary of the Linden-Soesdyke highway; pursuing negotiations for the dredging of the Demerara River; commencement of discussions to develop a national port authority and to reconstruct, refurbish, and upgrade Port Georgetown to reduce shipping costs, improve storage capacities, and minimise loading and off-loading times; conducting a detailed feasibility study for a permanent high level Demerara Bridge; and the commencement of the first phase of Guyana’s waterfront development programme, which includes undertaking feasibility studies and designs for the construction of boardwalks along Stabroek to Ogle and Vreed-en-Hoop.

On the new Demerara Bridge, Jordan noted that the government intends to launch a prospectus to invite public private partnership for its construction. “Our forecast is that works will commence in 2017,” he added.

Meanwhile, Jordan said that in 2017 government has budgeted $14.1 billion for the continued development and maintenance of roads and bridges, of which $2.3 billion has been earmarked for capital projects in the hinterland.

Targeted interventions, he said, include the Port Kaituma Road, from the airstrip to Fitsburg Housing Scheme, in Region 1; Issano Road and Karrau to Buckhall Roads, in Region 7; Karasabai to Monkey Mountain, in Region 8; and Aishalton Junction to Shea, in Region 9. While this is ongoing, he added, approximately $262.5 million will be spent in 2017 to prevent the further deterioration of the existing road network in the hinterland.