– expected within the Linden-Soesdyke Highway area as plans intensify to create ‘transformational infrastructure’
By Navendra Seoraj
WITH a growing population and an impending economic boom, the Government of Guyana has started to examine the possibility of creating a “secondary city” in Linden-Soesdyke Highway area to relieve the burden from an overpopulated Georgetown.
A city is defined as a permanent and densely settled place with administratively defined boundaries whose members work primarily on non-agricultural tasks
Georgetown, Guyana’s Capital, has served as the central hub for economic activities and residence for decades. But, the discovery of lucrative oil and gas resources, offshore Guyana, has drawn unprecedented attention to this nation, which, over the years, has focused mainly on primary production.
Hoteliers, agro processors, key players in the global energy sector and many other investors are either already in Guyana or are interested in setting up operations here.
Naturally, an influx of investment would catalyse growth in other areas and even increase a nation’s population; so, in a move which is seen as proactive, the Government has initiated discussions to establish a secondary city in Linden-Soesdyke Highway area that will connect to the new four-lane road, which will act as a catalyst for development.
It was reported, recently, that the country’s infrastructural transformation is expected to be catalysed by the construction of a new ‘fly-over’ Demerara Harbour Bridge which will stretch from Nandy Park on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) to La Grange on the West Bank of Demerara (WBD).
The new four-lane high-span bridge, which is scheduled to be completed in three years after the commencement of work, will replace the existing structure which was built in 1976, over four decades ago.
Testimony to the new bridge’s ability to catalyse infrastructural development is Government’s plan to construct a new four-lane highway, which will not just reduce traffic congestion, but open lands for housing, agriculture and tourism.
“We have initiated discussions in having a new area, a secondary city, developed… so we are exploring it along the new four-lane highway,” said President, Dr. Irfaan Ali during a passionate address at the 25th annual awards ceremony of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), held at State House compound, Georgetown.
This potential city will be timely since, according to President Ali, pressure on Georgetown is pushing residential occupation further, on the outskirts of the City.
It was the President himself, who, in 2013 during his days as Minister of Housing and Water, had proposed the establishment of a similar project, “Silica City”, which was slated to be created along the Soesdyke/Linden Highway.
This project never materialised, but the idea was to develop 500 acres of land for housing and other activities. At that time, and possibly to this day, 80 per cent of Guyanese occupied only 20 per cent of the country’s land mass, leaving a lot still to be developed so that every Guyanese family can own a house.
Those figures had justified the need for such a development. And, now- seven years later- with Guyana on the cusp of economic transformation, the Government believes that a secondary city is still needed.
This city, if established, will be among a slew of “massive and transformational” projects that are linked to national development and advancement.
ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION UNFOLDING
“Economic transformation is unfolding… oil production will provide resources to accelerate, but economic transformation did not commence with oil and the startup of production in 2019, it preceded this development.
“We (past PPP/C administration) were realigning the economy while protecting the primary economy… prior to 2015, we were investing in economic modernisation and providing incentives for the stimulation of manufacturing and services,” said President Ali on Wednesday.
Despite the ‘slippages’ along the way, the President assured the private sector and other stakeholders that Guyana will reap the rewards of past efforts.
He promised that economic transformation will intensify and plans are already being implemented which encompass such.
President Ali, in highlighting some of the transformative projects, referred to the road link between Ogle and Diamond; a potential four-lane road between Georgetown and Timehri; and the proposed road link between Parika and Rock Stone.
Those, he said, are massive, transformational projects which are linked to national development and economic transformation.
Over the medium- term, the Government will also be expanding economic opportunities through economic integration with its neighbours.
“We are working with the Republic of Suriname to bridge the Corentyne River. We will establish export-processing and duty-free zones near our borders with Brazil. A circuit of industrial estates and ICT parks will be created across the country.
“The establishment of a deep water harbour, the dredging of the Demerara Harbour and the construction of an all-weather road link to Brazil will lay the groundwork for Guyana to become a major hemispheric economic hub,” said President Ali.
He also said the Government is seeking investors to develop a mix of energy projects in order to generate an additional 400 megawatts of installed capacity.
The shore-to-base natural gas project, the reactivation of the Amalia Falls Hydroelectric Project, the intensification of rural electrification and the development of solar farms form part of the raft of energy projects, which will contribute to greater energy security and the halving of the cost of energy.
“These investments will unleash a tsunami of economic opportunities. The concern is not if and when these opportunities will arise but whether local manufacturing and services are positioning themselves to seize these opportunities,” the President reasoned.
The private sector, he advised, must see itself as an integral partner in every aspect of development. It must be bold enough to recognise the challenges and opportunities, and this, the President believes, can only be done through a change in the mode of doing business.
He encouraged the private sector to form consortiums, as the old way of doing business will vanish quickly amid increasing opportunities.
President Ali has said already that progress is expected on all fronts in 2021, which has since been designated as the Year of Investments and Development.
“What you will see next year is a flurry of development; there will be active work on the new Demerara Harbour Bridge, the new four-lane road, new hotels, and the creation of 50,000 homes,” said the President.
He said work will commence on the construction and rehabilitation of roads in hundreds of communities; new infrastructure will be created, and there will be major development in every sector.