Brazilian gov’t change won’t affect Linden to Lethem road project

-Brazil foreign ministry official

Ana Beatriz Nogueira, Head of the Division of Venezuela, Colombia and Guyana at Brazil’s Ministry of External Affairs (Ministry of Foreign Affairs photo)

A senior government official from Brazil’s Ministry of External Relations has revealed that the commitment to build an all-weather road from Lethem to Linden remains a priority for the country even with a change of government.

According to a statement released on Saturday by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ana Beatriz Nogueira, Head of the Division of Venezuela, Colombia and Guyana at Brazil’s Ministry of External Affairs, said last week that the “the organs responsible for infrastructure in Brazil are aware of the strategic importance of the Linden-Lethem road.”

Nogueira further explained that while some key appointments are political in nature, the Secretary of Infrastructure assured that the necessary budgetary arrangements have already been made. “They have a technical corps that is not usually affected by political changes,” she was quoted as saying.

Nogueira led a delegation of some 30 officials from various agencies in Brazil to meet with Guyanese counterparts at the Seventh Meeting of the Bonfim-Lethem Border Committee that was held in Bonfim on October 30th and October 31st, 2018.

The ministry statement said the Chief Transport Planning Officer in Guy-ana’s Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Patrick Thompson, provided an update on the project during discussions at the meeting.

“The paving of 454 kilometres of the Linden to Lethem Road and the construction of a deep sea port remain priorities on the infrastructure agenda for Guyana,” he said.

Thompson further stated that a recently identified international engineering firm is expected to begin the design process in January, 2019 and it is expected to last for 10 months.

“We are looking forward eagerly to the day when the journey between Georgetown and Lethem is reduced to a mere four hours,” Thompson added.

The statement noted that the Linden to Lethem roadway is being done in phases, starting with the approximately 125 km section from Linden and Mabura Hills and that some US$120 million has been guaranteed by the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

The Guyana-Brazil Joint Commission on Infrastructure is pursuing the detailed designs for Phase 2 of the project, which is the 320 km section between Mabura Hills and Lethem, it added.

Meanwhile, the ministry also said that despite looming implications of political changes in Brazil, the border committee made progress on a number of issues, including the reestablishment of the Bilateral Commission on Police Cooperation and Drugs, with its first meeting set for March 29th, 2019. “During the discussions, representatives in the security forces of both nations committed to working closer to curb cross border crime. Brazil has agreed to offer training in the initial instance to 10 Guyanese police officers in identifying vehicular theft,” the statement said.

It was also noted that the two sides were also able to agree on collaboration to combat plant diseases, particularly the Carambola Fruit Fly, which has had implications for trade.

Other areas discussed were health, education, environment, judicial cooperation and the International Road Transport Agreement.

Additionally, the two countries have agreed to meet again shortly to evaluate areas of cooperation, the statement added.

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