…project for public/private partnership
The paving of the stretch of road from Linden to Mabura Hill, Region 10 will be done through
a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Agreement, Finance Minister Winston Jordan has said.
He said the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Government is currently discussing the financing of the project with a donor. “We are speaking right now to a donor and I do believe that we are close to finalising something,” he told reporters shortly after presenting the $250B Budget to the National Assembly on Monday.
He said in 2017, the government should be in position to commence the multimillion dollar project paving the way for the other stretch from Mabura Hill to Lethem to be upgraded. “Once we get that road finish we could get connectivity throughout Central America (and) South America. You can probably leave Guyana and drive straight to the United States once you could have that connectivity,” he posited. When asked about the amount of money needed to execute the project, the Finance Minister said full disclosure will be made when an agreement has been reached.
“We have an idea how much it will cost but we don’t want to excite anybody or preempt the donor…some of these negotiations are delicate,” he said. However, it was noted that part of the money will be acquired through a grant and the other part through a loan. During his budget presentation, the Finance Minister said the country has waited for over five decades to bridge the coastal and hinterland divide, and for the creation of national and hemispheric inter-connectivity via the Linden to Lethem corridor.
“A recent Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) market demand study has reinforced that this corridor is essential for creating a link between our road and sea transportation networks,” Minister Jordan told the House while disclosing Government’s intention to exploit the competitive advantage of the country’s strategic geo-physical and geo-political location on the South American mainland along the Atlantic Coast.
Despite criticisms by Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo that the road should not be paved at this point in time, Executive Member of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Ramesh Dookhoo said the paving of the road from Linden to Lethem was among requests on the PSC’s wish list. “The Linden to Lethem road is a huge priority for the Private Sector. We see that road as one which will generate economic activities through the length and breadth of Guyana,” Dookhoo told Guyana Chronicle on Tuesday.
The PSC executive said that he was surprised by the utterances of the former President, given that while in power, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration was in search of a private partner to assist in the paving of the road that runs through Regions Nine and 10. “Under his watch, they were looking for funds from the private sector but that fell through,” he noted.
Dookhoo maintained that the government is moving in the right direction, in this regard, noting that it is a positive step. “We see the road as a priority…as an economist he (Jagdeo) should know better, and if he is saying that the road is not a priority, as a member of the Private Sector I am disappointed.”
Less than two weeks ago, the final results of the Guyana- Brazil land transport link and deepwater port projects were presented to Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson.
Upon receiving the report, Minister Patterson said the project can lead to economic growth, and an increase in Gross Domestic Product. “Guyana can increase the competitiveness of its exports, and lower maritime cost. Guyana can also benefit from stimulating activity along the road leading to regional economic benefit in terms of employment and GDP. When we also take into account the need for tolling, this may also take another dimension of economic returns for Guyana.”
The Amazon River on the Atlantic Coast is the main route for import and export to Roraima. However, this route is not only time consuming, but relatively expensive, therefore, an alternative transportation route is necessary.
“The traffic potential for cargo is considered to be significant, which is the reason for this market survey, and if the existing port of Georgetown cannot support this potential, the development of a suitable water port in Guyana is therefore the way to go, while the corridor linking the Guyanese border will prove to be a major competitive alternative for routing cargo to and from Brazil,” Minister Patterson had explained.
Earlier this year, President David Granger had said that construction of a highway from Linden in Region 10 to Lethem in Region Eight remains high on the agenda of both Guyana and Brazil.
He had expressed the hope that within the next four years, significant progress will be made in this regard.
President Granger had said that it was up to Guyana to accept some responsibility. “It is something that we need to do. It is not a political matter, it is a financial matter,” he had declared.
In a quest to move the process forward, the Region 10 Regional Democratic Council (RDC) had crafted a “Plan of Action” for the development of the district, which included upgrading the Linden-to-Lethem Road and the stretch of road from Linden to Kwakwani.
Region 10 Chairman Renis Morian had explained that, under the stewardship of former Regional Chairman Mortimer Mingo, a development strategy had been established and submitted to the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration, but that was “swept under the mat.”
“The development of the road is vital to the development of Linden, Region 10, and all of the communities along that corridor,” Morian said, as he reflected on a project which had been endorsed by former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds but reportedly collapsed upon the involvement of the PPP/C.