The road linking the East Coast to the East Bank of Demerara, which was initially set to connect Ogle and Diamond, will now be extended to Timehri, Finance Minister Winston Jordan announced yesterday.
Jordan was at the time delivering the feature address at the commissioning of a new Distribution Services Limited (DSL) warehouse at Diamond, East Bank Demerara. DSL is a subsidiary of beverage giant Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL).
“I heard our Executive Chair-man [of DDL, Komal Samaroo] mentioning infrastructure and he talked about the bypass road to Diamond. Well, I am pleased to report that we are moving that road from Diamond to CJIA [Cheddi Jagan International Airport] and we have already approached the bilateral donor for financing to continue the study,” Jordan said.
Following the event, Jordan was approached by Stabroek News and was asked whether the new extension of the project would affect its current progress, to which he said no and explained that “it’s like a Phase Two.”
“That is virgin territory and, in fact, the monies that was earmarked for the project quite a while ago by the Indian Government couldn’t even do to do the study when it started. So we had to go and try to get more money. We want to take the benefit of the existing people who are already there to see if you can get it straight to CJIA because this is a high-speed road and it is being designed to cater for a rail system in the middle,” he said, while adding that expected revenue from oil would make a high-speed rail a reality of moving from the East Coast to the East Bank of Demerara.
Jordan said that while the government has returned to the donor, communicating the new plan and desire for more money, he could not say what was the response. However, he said that government would either get financing from the same donor or will have to use resources garnered from the petroleum industry.
Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MoPI) Technical Services Manager Nigel Erskine had previously told Stabroek News that works on the Ogle to Diamond bypass road are expected to begin in the final quarter of this year as the preliminary report, which suggests that a four-lane highway is most feasible, was handed over in October by Indian company, RITES.
He had explained that the MPI is expecting to have the draft design report in the first quarter of this year and a month after that, the final design with the drawings and tender documents should be ready. Thereafter, it will go into bidding which will take another four to six months. By the last quarter of the year, the contractor should be mobilised and ready to start the works.
The report has estimated that the project will cost approximately US$104 million, though Erskine said the actual cost could be above or below that sum, once the project is finalised and they receive the draft design.
However, Jordan, during his 2019 budget presentation last November, had pegged the cost of the project at US$120 million.
To start preparatory works, which will include draining, re-engineering and retrofitting the swampy area between Ogle and Diamond to facilitate the main construction works which are targeted for later in 2019, he said, $45 million has been allocated.