The West Coast Demerara Road, after undergoing three years of rehabilitative works worth around $9b, was officially commissioned yesterday, setting the momentum for other works slated for Region 3.
The ceremony, which was held at the De Willem tarmac, was attended by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and his wife Sita Nagamootoo, Minister of State Joseph Harmon, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson, Junior Minister Annette Ferguson, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, and Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan.
Patterson, whose ministry held responsibility for the West Demerara Road Expansion Project, related that the construction was done to the tune of US$44.3 million. The project, which saw a series of features being added to the 30.7 kilometre-long public road, was funded by the Government of Guyana and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
“Residents and road users would have therefore noted the rehabilitation of bridges and culverts, the construction of shared use lanes for cyclists and pedestrians at key junctions, the installation of high visibility traffic signs and road markings, the installation of pedestrian foot paths and bridges, construction of concrete drains at critical locations to allow for the efficient drainage, and the construction of parking lanes along identified sections of the road,” Minister Patterson related.
“The project forms part of Government of Guyana’s ongoing programme to modernize its road infrastructure and the institutional framework supporting its management. The project is expected to result in a number of direct and indirect positive social impacts for the area and the country as a whole. These include a reduction in the risk of serious injury or even death, particularly to students walking and riding to and from school,” L O’Reilly Lewis, Division Chief of the Economic Infrastructure Division of the CDB said yesterday.
“Road markings, signs and lighting will also enhance road safety and the road safety awareness activities are expected to result in behavioural changes such as the adoption of safe road usage and driving practices,” he added.
Apart from the road works, the project included five other components, those being, capacity building, engineering services, project management and monitoring and evaluation.
The Minister, in his feature address, said that the project emphasises the importance of Region 3 as a conduit for other regions, and as also being a “growing hub for continued sectoral development”.
“These developmental activities are only as good as the ability to access locations within the outskirts of the region, for which this highway provides the opportunity to link communities, reducing travel time and increasing economic activities,” he stated.
“…I’m advised that due to the existence of this project, a road that had deteriorated badly three years ago is now fully refurbished and expanded for the ease of travel and safety of our citizens, especially the people of region 3,” said Minister Harmon in his address. “This fully refurbished and expanded state of the art highway is also completed in anticipation of our new Demerara Harbour Bridge…and all of the developments that are taking place here,” he added. Apart from the road expansion project, Patterson noted that the ministry is also engaged and is soon to embark on other developmental works in the region, including in the areas of renewable energy, sea defence works and other road works.
He related that works will be extended to specific sections of the West Bank Road, along the route from La Grange to Wales. Those works are to begin before the end of this year. The Minister expressed hopes that the Belle West and La Grange old road will be completed before year-end, noting that a contract has already been awarded for the project.
Further to that, while he noted that rehabilitative works were completed in Canal Number 1, he said that works remain ongoing in Canal Number 2, and so by next year, both roads will be fitted with approximately 120 LED lights.
Cheekily, Patterson stated that the ministry will also be able to extend road works to the La Parfaite Harmonie road, should a proposal put to the Central Housing and Planning Authority and Ministry of Communities be taken up. Patterson related that he had put to the entities that should they assume the expenses for the asphalt and other road materials (as the mobile asphalt plant is present in the area for ongoing works), the Ministry of Public Infrastructure will provide labour, installation and road repairs for free. That road has been scarred with potholes as a result of poor work.
As for sea defence works, it was stated that those projects, particularly the rehabilitation of sluices, are to be done at Uitvlugt, Leonora and Den Amstel, while works are already ongoing at De Willem.
It was noted that Cabinet had also approved emergency sea defence works following a request from the region, after the overtopping which occurred earlier this year. Those works are scheduled to commence shortly.
According to Minister Patterson, Region 3 has been “earmarked” for the installation of renewable energy technology within the coming years.
Patterson related that as part of the government’s ongoing initiative to promote “green and clean” energy, in the latter half of this year, five locations within the region will be outfitted with solar PV systems. These buildings are the Leonora Cottage Hospital, the West Demerara Regional Hospital, the Belle West Health Centre, the Leonora Magistrate’s Court and the Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary School.
He further stated that the programme started in 2017 to have lights and occupancy sensors installed will continue this year, with the fluorescent bulbs at all schools and hospitals being replaced with LED lamps.
He announced that they will begin the installation of over 792 streetlights by the end of this year, and was sure to make mention that some of those lamps have been earmarked for Leguan and Wakenaam, which should receive 47 and 30, respectively.
He also said that there is an ongoing project for the installation of 90 LED lamps between Crane and Ruimzigt, which will be complemented by 140 lamps, to be installed later this year at Vergenoegen and Hydronie.