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New Demerara Harbour Bridge will open access to new lands for oil sector- Edghill

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 May 2023, 14:44 by Denis Chabrol

Participants in the IDB-Guyana government kick-off workshop for a US$117 million safe, climate resilient road project.

The new high-span four-lane Demerara Harbour Bridge, which will not have to retract for boats to pass up and down the waterway, is expected to trigger the development of more shorebases and other riverside facilities to support Guyana’s rapidly expanding oil and gas sector, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill said.

Addressing a workshop by the Inter-American Development (IDB) to support a US$117 million safe, climate resilient road infrastructure development project, he said the new bridge would be 55 metres high would pave the way for significant port development all the way up to Linden. “That means port development will move beyond the Demerara Sugar Terminal and can go all the way out to Linden; whether it be laydown yards, whether it be shorebases, whether it be ports for commercial vessels. And the fact that the waterways will be developed, the loading and offloading of ships will significantly increase the traffic on that road; just the possibility of the bridge which is under construction,” he said.

Mr Edghill also said when rehabilitated, the East Bank Demerara Road would become a key artery to link Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) with Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni). He said that alignment has been already cut and that new road-link from Timehri-Sand Hills-Fowl Mouth road would be an asset for gold miners. That link, he said, would take people two and a half hours to Bartica. “That road will see additional traffic on the East Bank Road because in order to get to the Timehri-Sand Hills- Fowl Mouth road, you have to use that East Bank corridor. Now, that means all the miners who depend on the steamer to carry their limited amount of goods will start using trucks to get their supplies to Bartica,” he said.

Mr Edghill said the road would also facilitate traffic to Silica City and a new dairy farm, both on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway. He forecast a growth in the number of vehicles that would be using the East Bank Demerara Road because of additional traffic that is expected on the Linden-Mabura Road, several bridges along the Linden-Lethem trail and a deep-water port in Berbice.

In the context of those developments, government has already started considering the need for a four-lane East Bank Demerara Road.

Ministry of Public Works Project Manager, Mark Greene said US$100 million was loaned by the IDB and the remainder by a Guyana government subsidy of US$17 million.

He said the East Bank Demerara road from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) to Georgetown, which was rehabilitated in 1996 and maintained by the Public Works Ministry, has now “reached its design life” and so now the time has come to improve that thoroughfare with climate-resilient materials. Under the loan, Mr Greene said that 24 kilometres of that road would not only be rehabilitated and maintained but would make special provisions for pedestrians and cyclists for narrower sections. Street lights and drainage would be improved and utilities would be relocated.

In terms of road safety management, the Public Works Ministry official said road use would be measured and licence plate recognition cameras would be installed to enforce safe road use.  He said monitoring shows that more than 62,000 vehicles use the East Bank Demerara Road within 24 hours of which 26 percent are trucks.

The project provides for ongoing consultations with stakeholders to avoid disruptions and conflicts.

IDB Procurement Specialist, Patricia Yamilee Payen said t 175,000 direct beneficiaries are expected to benefit from the swift implementation of the project whose aims include reductions in vehicle operating costs, passenger travel time and non-revenue water losses.