By Rehana Ahamad
IF all goes as planned, the bridge linking Guyana and Suriname could be completed and put to use before the end of 2025. This is the ambitious timeframe of Senior Minister of Public Works Bishop Juan Edghill, who said that he is expecting Guyanese investors to take advantage of the many direct and indirect opportunities that will come from this massive project.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Public works for both countries (Guyana and Suriname) invited Expressions of Interest (EoI) for the provision of consultancy services for the “conducting of Feasibility Study and Preparing Detailed Designs for Construction of the Bridge over the Corentyne River and Approach Roads Connecting Suriname and Guyana.”
According to the published invitation, “The objective of the consultancy is to conduct a feasibility study including environmental and social-impact assessments and prepare detailed designs, drawings, cost estimates and bid documents for the construction of a bridge linking South Drain, Suriname and Moleson Creek, Guyana.”
This particular assignment has a timeline of 12 months attached to it.
Minister Edghill told the Guyana Chronicle that a technical team has been assembled to ensure the competent and transparent execution of construction of the bridge. That team is being mutually spearheaded by Minister Edghill and his Surinamese counterpart, Riad Nuiermohamed.
While construction of the bridge is a joint initiative, Minister Edghill said that the contracted works will not necessarily be ‘shared’ by the two countries.
“Whoever is the contractor that wins the contract, they will do the work,” the Public Works Minister asserted. This is irrespective of the nationality and/or location of the successful bidder.
“Whoever is the qualified contractor with the competence and skills and everything to build the bridge will be awarded the work,” Edghill said.
The EoI has specified that “following the assessment of the submissions, a shortlist of no less than three, and no more than six applicants will be provided with full terms of reference and will then be invited to submit technical and financial proposals to undertake the assignment.”
Minister Edghill has informed that all submissions would be examined by the technical team, and that bidders would only be selected if they satisfy the criteria agreed by both countries.
In the assessment of submissions, consideration will be given to technical competence, financial capability, qualifications, existing commitments, and importantly, the bidder’s experience on similar projects, both locally and regionally.
“The Governments of Suriname and Guyana reserve the right to accept or reject late applications or to cancel the present invitation partially or in its entirety. It will not be bound to assign any reason for not shortlisting any applicant and will not defray any costs incurred by any applicant in the preparation and submission of Expressions of Interest,” the notice read.
VIRGIN LANDS AND A REQUEST TO VISIT
Construction of the bridge across the Corentyne River will undoubtedly open much developmental opportunities for both countries. President of the Central Corentyne Chamber, Mohammed Raffik, is preparing to mobilise the business community in order to brainstorm and examine areas of possible investments.
“Now is the time now [sic] to think about proposals and see what can happen for development,” Raffik told the Guyana Chronicle.
The businessman has also issued a request for the business community to be afforded a tour of the construction site, so as to be able to examine the space and conceptualise the kind of investments that the surrounding areas can benefit from.
“The lands that will be opened up there is virgin territory, so there are a lot of possibilities… for hotels, tourism areas, mega farms… this is really good for all of us. I am looking forward to the day where [sic] I can easily drive over to Suriname,” Raffik noted.
The businessman noted that he is quite impressed by the pace at which the project has unfolded.
“Kudos has to be given to the government. They moved very quickly… the President visited Suriname right away and things started to really happen,” Raffik pointed out.
Similar sentiments were also shared by Head of the Private Sector Commission, Nicholas Boyer, who anticipates numerous positive “spin-off” opportunities for Guyanese.
Once constructed, the bridge will serve as a permanent physical link between Suriname and Guyana. It is also expected to be an economic boost for both countries, and a mechanism for enhanced social and cultural exchanges.