US$45.3m China loan clinched for East Coast highway

Finance Minister Winston Jordan on Monday signed a US$45.3m concessional loan from the Exim-Import Bank of China for the widening of the Better Hope to Belfield section of the East Coast Demerara Highway.

A press release from the Ministry yesterday said residents of Better Hope to Belfield can begin to look forward to reduced travel time and transport costs and less traffic congestion.

The statement added that the section of the roadway between Better Hope and Belfield links many highly populated villages to the capital city and when completed, will enhance the mobility and accessibility of commuters to and from Georgetown. “It will also positively impact the accident rate and vehicular maintenance,” the release said.

Stabroek News had reported in May 2014 that Chinese firms were vying for the new phase of the East Coast expansion project, which was supposed to be completed through a US$57 million loan from China.

At that time, the four-lane expansion slated for Better Hope to Belfield had been divided into six lots.

The government subsequently signed a framework agreement with the People’s Republic of China for a US$45.3M (RMB Yuan 313,838,800) concessional loan in November last year. The contract was awarded to China Railway First Group Company Limited.

It is expected to be finished in 18 months after it starts.  The release said that work will commence in the first quarter this year. The loan is expected to be repaid in 20 years, after a five-year grace period.

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