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Govt engages major development partners on stalled projects

by Samuel Sukhnandan

Juan Edghill

Government has engaged some of its main development partners including the Indian Government, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CBD) on several key projects that have been in the pipeline for many years, but never came to fruition.

Public Works Minister Mr Juan Edghill said during discussions, the government conveyed its desire to have the East Coast-East Bank Demerara by-pass road project, Sheriff/Mandela Road Expansion project, the Linden to Lethem Road and the construction of a ferry for Region One (Barima-Waini) commenced at the earliest opportunity.

Indian High Commissioner to Guyana Dr K. J. Srinivasa was engaged on the East Coast-East Bank Demerara by-pass road project and the construction of a ferry for Region One. Both projects are being facilitated through an India Line of Credit offered to Guyana and executed through the EXIM Bank of India.

Minister Edghill revealed that the government is now putting the final plans in place for the East Coast-East Bank by-pass road project. “I am happy to report to the people of Guyana that the final arrangements to this road will be announced in less than 10 days in the Irfaan Ali administration,” he said.

The road once completed, will link the East Coast of Demerara and East Bank of Demerara, and act as an alternative bypass from Georgetown, in hopes of reducing traffic congestion between the two zones for commuters and other travellers.

Meanwhile, in discussing plans for the second project, the Minister revealed that US$18 million will be made available through the Indian grant to build the Region One ferry. He said, “The people in Region One can expect their ferry within 18 months from this time because a decision on this matter has been made and we are going forward.”

The contract for the construction and supply for the passenger and cargo ocean ferry vessel and associated equipment that will ply the North West route was awarded back in September 2018, but the project was later stalled.

“We came back into the office and there is still no ferry. The only thing we met on our desks were disputes, indecision, lack of proper management and policy direction,” Mr Edghill decried.

The North West district is currently served by the Transport and Harbours Department’s refurbished M.V. Barima along with the Lady Northcote.

Just before leaving office in 2015, former President Mr Donald Ramotar paid an official visit to India where he held talks with the government and managed to secure grants for both of these projects.

Further, Minister Edghill said that the government is also actively looking at the Linden-Lethem Road and the Kurupukari Crossing project and has already engaged the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and others to come to a final decision on the use of the funds under the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF).

“This road is a priority and we expect that the indecision and the lack of movement which obtained over the last several years will be resolved in a matter of weeks and we’ll be getting on with the Linden to Lethem road,” he added.

On the other hand, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) was also engaged by the government on the Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue Road Expansion Project. The IDB had suspended the disbursement of funds for the US$31 million project owing to health and safety violations by the contractor, Sinohydro Corporation Limited.

The Minister said the contract was not properly implemented and finances from the loan were diverted to address housing issues in Guyana, among other things. The project is aimed at expanding the roadway from a two-lane road to a four-lane road with a central concrete median and shared-use paths, among other improved facilities.