Guyana, Brazil sign pacts on infrastructure, drought in Rupununi

Guyana yesterday clinched two agreements with Brazil relating to the long-sought road to Lethem and mitigating droughts in Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo).

The agreements were sealed during President David Granger’s visit to Brazil which began on Wednesday.

According to a release from the Ministry of the Presidency, the two agreements are the Comple-mentary Agreement to the Memorandum of  Under-standing between the two countries which creates the “Guyana-Brazil Joint Commission to Develop Infrastructure Projects”  and the Complementary Agreement to the Basic Agreement on Technical Cooperation between the two countries for the Implementation of the Project “Technologies to Reduce the Effects of the Drought in Region 9 of Guyana.”

The construction of the long-awaited Linden-Lethem road is one of the key projects under this agreement, the release said.

President Granger said that for decades both sides envisaged a route through Guyana, which will offer better development pros-pects for investors to come from the Caribbean into Brazil and from Brazil into the Caribbean.

“This is something that has been long discussed and in fact, in some parts of the Rupununi, roads were actually aligned but we never had funding to complete it. The infrastructure agreement we are entering willA be focused on fulfilling that obligation to building a road between Lethem and Linden. Brazil has done its part; Brazil has built a bridge under President Luiz Da Silva and the road literally comes right out to the bridge. We need to do our part so that is a very important agreement that was signed,” the President said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge said that in July, he and Minister of Public Infra-structure,  David Patterson met with their respective counterparts to discuss moving the project forward. At that forum, it was agreed that both countries would provide financial resources for the engineering and design of the road.

“The engineer and design probably would cost somewhere in the region of US$5M to US$10M, between the two countries and with another partner, probably one of the multilaterals, we will close that financial package for that design… Guyana has been speaking about it for ages; the funding of the road clearly is a challenge to both countries. Guyana is very small so this is a big burden in terms of the financing costs”, the minister said.

He also disclosed, the release said, that the two countries will be working closely with China on how to access the $50B China Select Fund to complete the road.

“The region of Roraima will not only provide Guyana with markets into Brazil and into Roraima, but in terms of volume, a larger volume of movement will be involved so as to get Brazil’s products, agriculture or otherwise, into the international markets by the route that turns out to be a lot cheaper than the route that they currently use so it is a value to both sides,” he said.

In terms of the second pact, the Brazilian Army will be working closely with the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to develop its Engineering Corps. This collaboration will see the drilling of artesian wells in Indigenous communities in villages such as Para Bara, Achiwib, Karaudarnau, Aishalton, Awarewanau, Shea and Mururanau.

This drilling has also been spoken about for some time now.

“As we know Rupununi is susceptible to droughts and floods so we want to remove that uncertainty and have a system under which the communities, there are over 50 villages in the Rupununi that could be supplied with fresh water continuously during the year and Brazilian terrain across the border is similar in many respects. So there is not only going to be a supply of physical infrastructure but there’s also going to be a transfer of technology,” Granger said.

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