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Guyana abandons current Demerara Bridge proposals; goes after four-lane, fixed bridge

The previously proposed three-lane new Demerara River Bridge.

The Guyana government has scrapped plans to build a new three-lane bridge across the Demerara Bridge and has instead decided to ask for fresh proposals to construct a fixed four-lane crossing, Finance Minister Winston Jordan said Sunday.

“The reason why I think the decision has been made to go back out is because we didn’t want to disqualify a whole set of people who felt it might have been better to look at a bridge that is more longer lasting and with the passage of time between when  that decision was made for a three-lane and now when we saw the bridge come in and the cost that it might be more prudent to go with the four-lane,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

Jordan’s first public statement about a bigger river bridge was made Friday at China’s 9th International Infrastructure and Construction Forum when he stated that a fixed four-lane bridge connecting major commercial and industrial regions would be constructed.

Speaking with Demerara Waves Online News moments after his return to Guyana on Sunday, the Finance Minister said government has decided to issue a new Request for Proposals after experts examined several offerings. “Several people put in for different kinds of bridges. Most of them put in for a four-lane fixed bridge so I think the decision will be to go back out for new Request for Proposals for a four-lane fixed bridge,” he said.

A feasibility study had recommended a three-lane crossing with a moving section to allow ships to pass, but all that is about to change because  if all goes well, the new plans will see the construction of a high-span fixed bridge from Houston, East Bank Demerara to the old Guyana Power and Light generation plant at Versailles.

The Finance Minister could not say whether China would be financing a four-lane Demerara River bridge as that would depend on the response to the new request for proposals. He, nevertheless, noted that several Chinese firms had at first proposed a fixed four lane bridge. China’s Ambassador to Guyana in February, 2018 observed that the proposed US$170 million three-lane bridge was not modern and in keeping with 21st century trends.

A multilateral agency, he said, has offered to work with Guyana to craft a Request for Proposals that would specify clearly what Guyana needs for a new bridge crossing.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister said the participants at the China International Infrastructure and Construction Forum showed a lot of interest in what Guyana has to offer and would be willing to dispatch delegations and explore feasible financing options. “At the end of the day, it’s about profits and they all made that very clear and, therefore, they would like to see what model we have in mind,” he said.  In that regard, he said Guyana does not have one model but would be willing to examine those available and “build one that will be best suited for both parties”.

Finance Minister Jordan said he was excited at the level of interest by Chinese firms, government departments and civil society in Guyana. “I think it’s now time to press on the accelerator where these matters are concerned,” he said.

In November, 2017 , the Chinese companies that had submitted expressions of interest in constructing the new Demerara River bridge were China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Company Limited in joint venture with AVICINTEL Project Engineering Limited, China Communications Construction Company Limited, and CITIC Constructtion Company Limited in joint venture with China Railway 17 Bureau Group Company Limited. The Spain-based Puentes y Calzadas Infraestructuras is a junior joint venture partner with Sino Hydro Company Limited of China.

Also interested at that time were Ballast Nedam, and BAM, which are both registered in The Netherlands, and  three Brazilian companies- OAS Engenharia e Construcao; Coema Pais Landscaping Urbanisation and Services Limited in joint venture with Constructora Sanches Tripoloni Limited.  The lone Indian company that had entered the race to be shortlisted was AFCONS Infrastructure.

Those companies had all expected to be selected as the top three pre-qualified companies which would have then been invited to submit bids.

The “Feasibility Study and Design for the new Demerara River Crossing- public stakeholder consultations” was done the Netherlands-based LienvenseCSO Consultants.