$21 billion set aside for new Demerara Harbour Bridge matters

Last Updated on Tuesday, 8 February 2022, 23:03 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana government has set aside GY$21 billion (estimated US$100.4 million) for matters related to the construction of the new Demerara Harbour Bridge including fair compensation to property owners in the  new path of the proposed thoroughfare and ensuring that the toll will not be expensive, Public Works  Minister Juan Edghill said on Tuesday.

“We have to look at the fact that you’re building this bridge and if somebody is bringing total financing and they have to recoup their financing, the price of tolls will go out of whack,” he told the House. He said the amount would include Guyana’s contribution for the construction of the bridge at the best price in two years.

Questioned by opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change  (APNU+AFC) parliamentarian David Patterson, Mr. Edghill also said that government had quashed negotiations with the lowest cost responsive bidder, China State Construction Engineering Corporation, that had proposed to build the new bridge across the Demerara Harbour Bridge for US$256.6 million. “The negotiators have since informed the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board that they wish to terminate the negotiation process because the term sheets and the cost of financing would not serve the best interest of the people of Guyana and currently we are negotiating with the second ranked responsive bidder,” he said. 

That bidder is joint venture China Railway Construction Corporation International, along with China Railway Caribbean Company Limited and China Railway Engineers which had bid to construct the new Demerara Harbour Bridge  for US$260.8 million or US$300 million.

With the western end of the four-lane high-span bridge expected to land near Providence, Mr. Edghill said some of the money would be used for compensation based on valuation of land and properties.  He said talks have already started with a number of owners but he refused to say how much money has been set aside for compulsory acquisition for fear that that could fuel speculation to “get a windfall”. “Using the law and fulfilling the constitutional provisions, that if we have to acquire or compulsorily acquire property, it will be in keeping with what the  constitution says and at market values,” Mr. Edghill said.  Mr. Patterson reminded the Minister that the law provides for government’s Valuation Division to assess the value of the lands.

In response to a question by APNU+AFC parliamentarian Jermaine Figueira about when the Mackenzie to Wismar bridge across the Demerara River would be rebuilt, Mr. Edghill said government’s immediate priority was replacing the bigger bridge which thousands of commuters use everyday. The Public Works Minister said eventually the Mackenzie- Wismar bridge would be rebuilt.