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…$150M to repair Linden-Soesdyke Highway
As part of its agenda to transform Guyana’s infrastructure, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government has proposed the injection of $25.6B into the upgrade and construction of roads and bridges across the country.
In presenting the 2021 National Budget to the National Assembly on Friday, Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said of the sum, $23.7B will be spent on roads and the remaining $1.9B will be spent on bridges.
Notably, $3.5B has been allocated for the commencement of the Linden to Mabura Hill Road in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice). The multibillion dollar project, which has been on the cards of successive governments including the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), is being funded in part by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the United Kingdom (UK).
Last December, the CDB approved funding for the update of 121 kilometres of road from Linden to Mabura Hill. The CDB provided US$112M; the UK, US$66M and a contribution of US$12M from the Guyanese Government.
According to the Finance Minister, the project will be tendered during the first quarter of 2021. Further, a sum of $150M has been budgeted for sectional rehabilitation of the Linden – Soesdyke Highway.
“In order to address the continuous traffic chaos on the East Bank Demerara Public Road, construction has already begun on a road linkage between Diamond to Mocha, connecting to an existing road network from Herstelling to Eccles. In Budget 2021, the Government has allocated the sum of $1 billion to continue and complete the construction of a four-lane highway from Eccles to Mandela Avenue which will significantly reduce travel time for tens of thousands of commuters traversing this corridor,” Dr Singh disclosed.
He told the House that over the next five years, new corridors will be created to support the agro-industrial, light manufacturing, commercial and tourism sectors. These projects include linking the East Coast Demerara Highway to Timehri, connecting the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) and Eugene F. Correia International Airport, and establishing a Schoonord to Parika four lane superhighway.
The Parika to Goshen route will also be developed to establish a link for the trade and commercial centres of Parika.
“These routes will be established with a survey alignment to be completed in 2021, and clearing of the right of way will commence while we pursue financing for construction works. Additionally, we will be constructing a farm-to-market road from No. 58 Village linking the Corentyne Coast highway to the Canje Creek, and opening vast acreage of arable agricultural land to benefit farmers across the region. Preliminary designs are being completed, while survey and right of way alignment will be conducted, and works will commence in 2021,” he detailed.
He said to date, the Government has received Expressions of Interest from 20 companies for the design and construction of a new Demerara Harbour Bridge. Of that number, nine firms have been shortlisted and the process now moves to the second round where more detailed designs, costing and financial terms will be assessed.
The new design of the high-span bridge will allow for free flow of maritime traffic as it will not require opening or retraction and will be built with a life span of at least 50 years.
“Additionally, on the Corentyne River Bridge Crossing, the Governments of Guyana and Suriname have invited expressions of interest for the construction of the bridge. In preparation for this massive transformative project, we will commence preparatory works to upgrade the road from Moleson Creek to El Dorado with the ultimate goal to extend to Orealla/Siparuta,” he said.
Amounts totalling $9B have been allocated under the miscellaneous and other roads programme, while a further $2.1B has been allocated to upgrade hinterland roads.
Also a part of its transformative agenda, the PPP/C Administration has budged $1.5B to finance a number of renewable energy projects.
According to Minister Singh, $700M has been budgeted for the installation of 10 mini-grids and 4 off-grid systems in 2021. This will provide a total of 1.472 KW of installed solar capacity, thereby generating 5,305 KWh of electricity. Sebai, Iwokrama, Waramadong, Paruima, Kurukabaru, Annai, St. Monica, Karaburi, Capoey, Whyaka, and Loo Creek are among communities to benefit.
“Additionally, solar farms will be installed at Mahdia and Leguan, and work will continue on solar farms at Bartica and Lethem. Moreover, two mini-hydropower plants, at Kumu and at Moco-Moco, will be tendered this year and construction will commence. The 150KW Kato hydro project will also be substantially completed in 2021,” the Minister disclosed while noting that the projects will total some $840M.
The Minister told the House that the PPP/C Administration intends to revitalize the Amelia Falls Hydro Power Project, which was scrapped by the APNU+AFC Administration and also intends to pipe gas to shore to generate cheap and reliable energy to power industry and meet the country’s growing demand for electricity.
“Conceptualised as a 210 km pipeline to transport natural gas from offshore Guyana, the gas to power project will be the trailblazer to advance Guyana’s path to domestic energy security within the next 3 years. This transformational project includes the establishment a power plant to generate up to 250MW of power, the establishment of an industrial park, including industries to support our agricultural and manufacturing sectors and the creation of a local LPG plant to cater for domestic demand and export,” he detailed.
He posited that during 2021, detailed geophysical, geotechnical, engineering and environmental impact assessment studies will be launched to inform government on technical considerations, as it advances efforts to land the gas on shore and bring the power plant into operation by mid-2023.