With the underdevelopment of the country’s road network having long been identified as a major obstacle to the country’s socio-economic development, the Government of Guyana has used the recently released Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) publication, Guyana Invest to make key disclosures regarding the administration’s plans for critical road development works envisaged under its administration. It expects to execute this utilizing a mix of local funding and multilateral financing according to a report published in the recently released 2017/2018 issue of Guyana Invest, the official publication of the state-run Go-Invest.
With a seriously underdeveloped road network continuing to limit the country’s development potential, including prospects for potentially lucrative economic ties with neighbouring Brazil, government has identified a number of road development projects which it says are either being executed or planned for execution in the immediate term.
At the top of the list of road-creation priorities is the Guyana/Brazil road extending “from the mining town of Linden to the border town of Lethem. Financing for the first phase of the project, a 122-kilometre stretch of road from Linden to the Kurupukari Crossing in the Essequibo River has already been secured from the British government through the UK/Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund. Other sections of the road link including the upgrading of sections of the actual Linden/Lethem road will have to be pursued through alternative funding sources and the Go-Invest periodical says that the Islamic Development Bank has already been engaged by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure as a possible source of funding for the stretch of road between Mabura Hill and Lethem.
The Ministers in the Public Works Ministry have reportedly been meeting with officials from the Inter-American Development Bank and other financial institutions as the search continues for financing though no public update on the pace of progress has yet been provided. Meanwhile, the Go-Invest periodical discloses that government has identified the Soesdyke/ Linden Highway for “another significant upgrade” that involves the complete re-surfacing of the road though it conceded that the furthest that it had gotten up to the time of the presentation of the 2017 budget was a “search for finances” to undertake the exercise.
It says that engineers estimate that “initial repairs” will cost around $40 million.
Both public and private sector entities in Guyana have been excited about the prospects that inhere in a Guyana-Brazil highway, particularly those that offer possibilities for the opening up of markets in northern Brazil for locally produced agricultural and manufactured goods as well as the movement of Brazilian export cargo through Guyana seeking a Caribbean sea route to its North American and other markets.
The long-planned construction of an alternative bypass connecting the Diamond Housing Scheme to Ogle may also be drawing closer to becoming a reality following the signing of a US$50 million deal with the Indian Government and China Railway First Group Ltd.
Other roads listed for government scrutiny in the short term include the Parika-Goshen Highway for which $2.398 billion has been set aside to commence construction/reconstruction work, the completion of the widening of the East Coast Highway and the improvement of sections of roadway on the West Coast Demerara.