Public infrastructure gets an additional $2B
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Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson 
Photo by Adrian Narine
Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson Photo by Adrian Narine

– 500M for construction of new roads, drains
– $489.8M for East Coast Road Widening and Improvement Project

IN keeping with its commitment to improve the conditions under which people operate, the Government of Guyana has injected an additional $2B into the public infrastructure sector for the construction of new roads, bridges and drains.

This is in addition to the installation of highway lights, and completion of the billion- dollar East Coast Road Widening and Improvement Project.

The sum, which complements the $15.5B already received by the Public Infrastructure Ministry for 2019, formed part of a $7.9B supplementary provision approved by the National Assembly on Thursday.

Of the more than $2B approved for the ministry, $500M will be used for the construction and rehabilitation of roads and drains in urban areas. Minister Patterson told the House that residents in all 10 administrative regions will benefit from this injection. He said the government is pleased with the projects completed. “The roads that we did in 2015, they are still standing, they are still standing sir. I remember there was something that they use to call ‘elections roads,’ but we don’t have that,” he posited.

Also, to complement the $1.9B that was approved for the construction and rehabilitation of main roads and drains for the Public Infrastructure Ministry, the House approved an additional $150M. It was disclosed that the money would be used to construct and rehabilitate main access roads and drains in Regions Two, Three, Four, Five and Six.

Minister Patterson told the House that since 2015, the government has invested heavily in the development of road and drainage networks in the country, and the added provision is intended to respond to concerns raised by citizens during the national outreaches.
Also, $489.9M was approved for the East Coast Road Widening and Improvement Project. Minister Patterson noted that the project is 75 per cent completed and the additional resources will be used to accelerate the pace. He assured the House that the project deadline, September 2019, remains the same. Approximately $2.2B was approved for the project in the 2019 Budget.

In the hinterland, an additional $50M will be used to carry out urgent repairs to roads and bridges along the Lethem-Hiowa-Nappi corridor.

Additionally, some $40.8M has been set aside for the rehabilitation of access bridges at Bella Dam and Little Diamond. In the case of Bella Dam, the beams were damaged while in the latter, urgent works have been prioritized, the Public Infrastructure Minister explained. In the 2019 Budget, the ministry was allocated $175.7M for bridges.

Minister Patterson also secured $400M to augment allocations for the acquisition of spares to facilitate rehabilitation of four vessels – M.L Allan Young, M. L Thompson, M.L Setter and M.T Aruka. It was explained that the works are critical to improve the safety, reliability and seaworthiness of the vessels. With the oil and gas industry on the rise, the Public Infrastructure Minister said it is important to keep the country’s maritime sector ahead of the curve.

The National Assembly also cleared $67.4M for the East Bank–East Coast of Demerara Road Linkage Project. It was explained that the additional resources are needed for consultancy services in addition to the higher cost associated with drainage of swampy areas along the alignment of the proposed road linkage. In the 2019 Budget, the House had approved $2.2B for the project. Minister Patterson, while noting that the draft design for the road is being reviewed, further explained that the project is larger than what was envisaged. “What was previously envisaged initially when the loan was taken was a single road…but what has been designed is a dual carriageway,” he said.

Under the line item, Infrastructure Development, the sum of $23.5M was cleared by the National Assembly for the installation of highway lights in Joppa in Region Six and in the vicinity of Kuru Kururu along the Soesdyke-Linden Highway. He said upon taking office in 2015, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) government initiated the project for the installation of highway and street lights across the country. According to the Public Infrastructure Minister, he is pleased with the project thus far. He said though the past administration had not seen the project as “economical,” citizens across Guyana continue to benefit from safer thoroughfares.

Additionally, the House approved $97.5M for the Kwakwani Electrical Company to complement the $3.9B already received for 2019. In defending the added sum, Minister Patterson said it is intended to ensure that the electrical company is able to effectively meet the demands of Kwakwani – a community located in the Upper Berbice River, Region 10. It was pointed out that the power company had encountered a number of challenges in 2018, due to the fact that it was unable to procure normal amounts of fuel from RUSAL. Due to the shortage of fuel, a number of other services were affected, and it is intended that the added amount will help to eradicate those challenges. Approximately $49.5M was also approved by the House for rental of one UN House, which will house all UN agencies within the country. Additionally, $160M has been approved for Sea and River Defence works at Prospect and Mahaicony to prevent flooding.

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