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Del Conte road project to be a boon to farmers and miners

The Del Conte Road

The coalition government is forging ahead with plans, inherited from the previous administration, to build the Del Conte Road on the east bank of the Essequibo River and possibly bridge that waterway to connect to Bartica, according to the Government Information Agency (GINA).

The current administration has plans to significantly boost the infrastructural transport network in Region Three, Essequibo Islands/West Demerara through that road which was first conceptualised by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-led administration in the 1960s.

These plans are intended to provide better access for farmers, and those in the mining industry.

Geoffrey Vaughn, Coordinator of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s Works Services Group, in a recent interview with GINA, indicated that the feasibility studies for the Del Conte road project will soon be completed, after which works will be done.

“This is one of the roads that came on stream (and) which would add towards the mining industry, and persons using it as one of the alternative routes in getting to those areas such as Bartica,” Vaughn explained.

This road project fits completely into the entire National Transport Network, as it provides a complete ring in the current transport network.

 “You can ring around the East Bank Road, get into the highway to Linden, get from Linden into Lethem and other mining industries, then you come in from the other end, which is East Bank Essequibo, and you can also access and meet to Linden… you’re looking at a complete link now, so it makes things either better for some persons who may be coming from the Essequibo Coast, Leguan, Wakenaam and those areas and who may want to get into the mining industry, and instead of having to use the longer route, you can actually drive across, and then use your necessary alternative transportation to get into the hinterland,” Vaughn explained.

This project forms part of the administration’s overall plan, which is to ensure accessibility around the economic activities in Guyana. 

The Del Conte road begins at Parika, East Bank Essequibo, and goes all the way down the East Bank Essequibo area into Goshen. For persons to get from Goshen to Bartica, a boat may have to be used; however, the Ministry is exploring a number of options, including the building of a bridge network across the Essequibo River.

“The feasibility studies are ongoing, and we are expecting that as soon as that feasibility study is wrapped up, we will be able to make some decisions in terms of whether or not we use a bridge, or go with a steamer service or pontoon, whichever way works in terms of economic feasibility,” Vaughn outlined.

The completed feasibility study will guide the administration as regards which alignment serves best for the construction of the road, as one currently exists, which runs parallel to the Essequibo River.

The road network runs through the Parika farmlands, and farmers do utilise the river in some areas, to transport their produce to the markets. With the road, mobility and produce movement will be made much easier.

“Coming out of the East Bank Essequibo, there is quite a lot of farming in terms of provision, cash crops, and other produce, that come out from those areas that would also benefit, because some of the farmers may use the river, and with the road coming into being now, it’s obvious it becomes a little easier for them to determine whether or not the alternative routes of using the road is better than using the river, so it gives them choices now,” Vaughn indicated.

It was also pointed out that the current state of the road does not permit persons to drive directly from Parika to Goshen, as some parts are impassable, and other parts are mere trails.

Further, plans are being reviewed for the bridging of the Essequibo Islands, as this will allow Leguan to be connected to Wakenaam and the Essequibo.

The Del Conte Road, named after a Venezuelan firm, was first conceptualiused in the 1960s by the then PPP government of then Premier, Cheddi Jagan, but that project later flopped because of alleged mismanagement.

For years, the People’s National Congress-led administration had often reminded the PPP of that project as an example of failure and alleged corruption. 

Prior to the PPP losing the May 11, 2015 general elections for the first time in 23 years, it had revived that road project which is now inherited by the coalition-led administration of which he PNC-Reform is a major partner.