Widening the EC Highway might not reduce congestion

Dear Editor,

I read with interest that Finance Minister Winston Jordan has stated that widening the Better Hope to Belfield section of the East Coast Demerara Highway will have the following benefits: “reduced travel time and travel costs and less traffic congestion” (‘US$45.3M China loan clinched for East Coast highway’, SN online, January 13).

While I applaud Guyana in getting US$45.3m in loans because there was a time when this kind of loan would have been impossible, I am not sure that the Minister has actually thought through the benefits of just widening the road to reduce travel time and travel costs and produce less congestion. For starters, congestion can be reduced by either increasing road capacity, or by reducing traffic. Increasing the road capacity will eventually lead to an increase in traffic, resulting in the need to widen the road again.

There are other options available, like establishing a mass transit system (buses), building a new parallel road more inland (as one blogger suggested) which will eventually move the population inland, road pricing, etc.

The Minister needs to also look at reducing the demand for road space as well.

Yours faithfully,

Sean Ori

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