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The Board of Directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved funding for the upgrading of 121 kilometres of road from the town of Linden to Mabura Hill, improving connectivity between Guyana’s hinterland and the coastal cities. The project is the first phase of a wider plan to develop a transportation corridor from Georgetown, the capital city, to Lethem on the southwest border; connecting the Port in Georgetown with northern Brazil, CDB said in a release on Friday.
“The upgrading of this portion of the largely unpaved road from Linden to Mabura Hill is more than an infrastructure project. It will include social safeguards that will ensure residents benefit from the road development; and environmental protections, to preserve the ecosystem. The project will also include activities to mitigate risks associated with increased development, which will build social resilience in the communities along the corridor and preserve the rights of vulnerable groups”, said CDB Acting Vice-President (Operations), Diana Wilson Patrick.
The US$190-million project is being funded by a US$112-million loan from CDB, a grant of £50 million (US$66 million) from the Government of the United Kingdom through the CDB-administered United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund, and a contribution of US$12 million from the Government of Guyana. It represents the largest project that CDB has financed in its 50 years of existence.
“The UK’s support to the Linden to Mabura Hill Road Project demonstrates our strong commitment to Guyana – a key partner for the UK. This transformative project will be critical for the development of Guyana’s north-south connection. It will contribute significantly to economic development and social inclusion, while being climate resilient”, said Acting British High Commissioner to Guyana, Ray Davidson.
The unpaved 450-kilometre road from Linden to Lethem, is often impassable in the rainy season due to flooding along low-lying sections of the road. The upgraded road corridor will provide year-round connectivity between Linden and Mabura Hill, improving conditions for local and long-haul transport which can increase trade between Guyana and Brazil.
In addition, residents in the remote communities along the Linden to Mabura Hill corridor will see immediate benefits from improved access to basic essential services and an expansion in economic activity. The project will also bolster ecotourism along the corridor by improving access to several nature reserves, such as the Iwokrama Rain Forest.
As an additional benefit, at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing poverty in the country, the road project will provide direct employment for both the short term and long term in a region characterised by high unemployment. It will also advance sustainable livelihoods of small and medium enterprises by facilitating access to financing, markets, and capacity-building services for residents in the project area, including indigenous people.
The project will promote improved social resilience of communities through capacity-building sessions. This will help to mitigate risks that could result from increased construction activity and heightened development of the area. The sessions will increase awareness about critical social issues such as gender equality, the rights of indigenous peoples, and the welfare of people with disabilities, children, youth, and the elderly. The project will also include an essential road safety component to protect users and communities along the route.