Next year, one of the government’s priorities will be the Ogle to Diamond bypass road but its price tag has shot up from US$50m a few years ago to US$120m, according to Finance Minister Winston Jordan during his 2019 budget presentation on Monday.
This road will create an alternative route from the recently-upgraded Cheddi Jagan International Airport , Timehri to the Eugene F Correia International Airport., Ogle
“This by-pass, which was estimated at US$50 million a few years ago, for which funding was secured, is now projected to cost US$120 million. We will be approaching our bilateral partner to secure the additional funding to make this road a reality,” he said. India is the bilateral partner.
During the feasibility study period, which established the road alignment, Jordan said, “our engineering teams encountered a swampy area between Ogle and Diamond.”
To start preparatory works which will include draining, re-engineering and retrofitting the swamp area to facilitate the main construction works which are targeted for later in 2019, he said, $45 million has been allocated.
“We have already commenced discussions with interested development partners to secure funding to extend the road to Soesdyke/Timehri, to form a continuous link from Georgetown to Lethem and, via the Takutu Bridge, to the Trans-Continental Highway connecting South, Central and North America.”
When completed, Jordan said, “This by-pass road will open over 15,000 hectares of housing, industrial and commercial lands, and provide much relief to the horrendous traffic bottlenecks on the East Bank Highway.”
The construction of the Linden to Lethem Road, the upgrade of the Linden to Soesdyke Highway and the construction of a new Demerara River Bridge are among other priority projects catered for in the $38.5 billion allocated to expand and maintain the country’s physical infrastructure. Two billion dollars have been allocated for upgrade of main roads in hinterland communities.
“The task is herculean, but we must address our mind to it. Hence in Budget 2019, we have allocated $38.5 billion to expand and maintain the infrastructure, principally, in recognition of the emergence of petroleum, as well as the expansion and diversification of our non-petroleum assets,” said Finance Minister Winston Jordan.
In the 2019 budget presentation on Monday, Jordan said, 71.9 per cent of the allocation will be spent on upgrading or on new facilities, while the remainder would go towards maintenance and repairs. The allocation will result in improved movement of people and goods, at the national and international levels, enhanced resilience of coastal and riverain communities, and improved efficiency in services delivered to the citizenry of Guyana, he said.
On the construction of the Linden/Lethem Road, Jordan said, Government is in discussion with the Brazilian Government on the development of the road from Mabura to Lethem.
Currently, in its pre-construction stage, Jordan said, “the entire road will create ease of access to Brazil and improve local community welfare through, increased traffic, commercial trade and economic advancement within the surrounding communities, including the new township of Lethem, which is earmarked for significant expansion with the proposed upgrade of the Lethem Aerodrome to a regional airport.” The feasibility study for the regional airport will begin in 2019.
Government will launch and deliver approximately six kilometres (km) of paved roads between Wisroc and Mile Zero and, with the support of key development partners, will start the feasibility study for the next 125 km from Linden to Mabura and the bridge across the Kurupukari River.
The new road will also facilitate easy access for foresters and miners, he said, and open a new and dynamic trade and commercial link with Northern Brazil.
Preliminary estimates done under an Inter-American Development Bank-financed market access study indicates that some 80 per cent of the container traffic to and from Northern Brazil, Jordan said, will be deflected from the Manaus/Amazon River Port route to Port Georgetown, with connections to North America, Europe and wider afield.
The sum of $134 million has been allocated to execute studies and designs for the rehabilitation of the 72-km Linden-Soesdyke Highway. The highway which, he said, has been neglected for over two decades, re-emphasises the importance of Linden as the central hub to connect the hinterland regions and allows for more intensive development of the lands on both sides of the highway for housing, commercial and industrial development including high grade silica sands.
An achievement on the EBD, he noted, was the recently-completed five pedestrian overhead walkways at Diamond, Providence, Peter’s Hall, Eccles and Houston, all of which are fitted with platform elevators for use by the public, catering specifically to senior citizens, persons with disabilities and schoolchildren.
The New Demerara River Bridge, he said, is expected to improve the flow of vehicular traffic. He recalled that when the project was presented in the National Assembly last year, he had indicated that Government had received 11 expressions of interest to build the bridge.
“Based on our evaluation of the bids, we concluded that our call for proposals must have been imprecise regarding the nature, scope and financing modality of the project, thus leading to uncertainty by the bidders as to whether it was a publicly-financed, privately-financed or a public private partnership (P3) venture. In the interest of transparency, we have annulled the process and re-scoped the project. It is now clear that we will be pursuing a P3 model for a four-lane, high-level, non-retractable bridge linking Houston and Versailles on opposite sides of the Demerara River.”
Government is seeking technical support from the Caribbean Development Bank to finalise the revised expression of interest which, he said, will be re-launched before the end of this year.
“At the same time, we are working with the International Finance Corporation to secure the services of technical experts to support our evaluation of the proposals that are expected to be opened towards the end of March 2019, and to facilitate the next steps in the P3 process. To this end, the sum of $100 million has been budgeted, in 2019, to finance the services of these technical experts.”
The completion of 30 km of road works under the West Coast of Demerara Highway Road Improvement Project in 2018, he said, has set the foundation to develop and upgrade riverain facilities.
In 2019, Government will embark on a feasibility and design study, he said, “to upgrade the Parika Stelling to a modern marine transport hub, thereby revitalising the journey to Bartica as the gateway to the interior.”
As Guyana‘s first “Green Town,” he said, “Bartica is slated to become a self-sufficient enterprise and familiar territory for business opportunities.” In anticipation of investment, he said, Government has engaged international financiers and development partners for the construction of an all-weather transportation road corridor from Parika to Bartica. This project is expected to be done in three phases, Parika to Goshen, Goshen to Monkey Jump and Monkey Jump to Bartica.
To complete this vision, Government foresees a Goshen to Free n Easy link to the Parika to Bartica corridor which, Jordan said, “will then solidify the integration between the East Bank of Essequibo to the West Bank of Demerara, and finally to Port Georgetown.”
When completed, the new road corridor will open over 200,000 hectares of arable agricultural lands along the fertile alluvial bank of the Essequibo River, he said.
“This road connection to Bartica will cut the current costly riverain mode and reduce the price for household, forestry and mining goods substantially.”
On the East Coast Demerara (ECD), Jordan said, works will continue on the Better Hope-Annandale four-lane highway and the Buxton-Belfield upgrade, with planned extension of the ECD highway from Belfield to Hope Canal Bridge.
The Islamic Development Bank is considering, he said, Government’s proposal to upgrade and widen the remainder of the ECD highway from Hope Canal Bridge to Mahaica.
“In parallel, reconstruction works will commence to upgrade the Railway Embankment Road from Enmore to Hope Canal Bridge, thereby creating a second access road – parallel to the East Coast Highway – from the Hope Canal Bridge to Sheriff Street.”
In the coming years, he said, it is Government’s objective that this improvement of the road network will continue to Rosignol. Mindful of the needs of urban, peri-urban and rural communities for improved roads to access farms, businesses and markets and for linking communities in a cohesive manner, Jordan said, about $2.9 billion has been allocated in 2019, 36.3 percent over 2018, towards constructing, maintaining and improving roads in towns, villages and communities countrywide.
Those targeted include Lima, Suddie, Charity, Stewartville, Wakenaam, Bagotstown, Agricola, Kuru Kuru, Industry, Sophia, South Ruimveldt Gardens and Park, Cummings Lodge, La Bonne Intention, Vigilance, Calcutta, Trafalgar, Belladrum , Angoy‘s Avenue, Manchester, Sheet Anchor, Mabaruma, Mahdia, Silver City, Amelia‘s Ward and Kara Kara.
In 2019, $2 billion will be allocated to maintain and improve roads, dams and trails including rehabilitation of critical sections of the Wanaina to Yarakita road, Bartica-Potaro road, Buckhall-Adventure road, Puruni road, Cassandra Crossing, Lethem-Aishalton road, Karasabai-Kato and Kwakwani-Orealla, among others. The allocation is 33 per cent higher than in 2018.