THE Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is appealing to citizens, particularly those living between Nandy Park, East Bank Demerara and La Grange, West Bank Demerara, to make written submissions on the possible environmental impacts of the proposed Demerara Habour Bridge project for its consideration.
The appeal is in keeping with the Environmental Protection Act, Cap. 20:05, which states that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required before a decision can be made to approve or reject a proposed project. Due to its magnitude, the proposed bridge project may have significant impacts on the environment.
Presently, arrangements are being finalised for the construction of the new ‘fly over’, four-lane high-span bridge. Its construction is expected to catalyse Guyana’s infrastructural transformation. The bridge which replaces the existing structure which was built in 1976, will facilitate improved management of both vehicular and marine traffic. It is expected to be completed three years after the commencement of construction works. During the presentation of Budget 2020, Minister of Public Works, Bishop Edghill, in his remarks spoke about the proposed project.
“Mr. Speaker, we speak of the lamentable and pedantic efforts by the past regime to conclude any arrangement for the construction of the new Demerara River crossing. This Honourable House will recall the impropriety surrounding the conduct of the feasibility study for the bridge and the feeble effort to launch an Expression of Interest (EoI), which was a phenomenal adventure in incompetence. Within the last few weeks we have re-kindled huge interest in this project,” he had said.
The APNU+AFC administration, after it assumed office in 2015, said that it would be feasible to have the existing bridge untouched and to construct another close by.
The former government had commissioned a feasibility study, which was awarded to Dutch Company, Livense CSO. The awarding of that contract was marred in controversy, with Auditor General, Deodat Sharma flagging major breaches of Guyana’s financial laws. The move by the Audit Office to “investigate” the award came after the completion of an investigation by the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) in 2018. The PPC report made clear that there were indeed deviations from standard procurement procedures.
It was noted that several companies had submitted bids for the project and 12 were shortlisted. The report added that only two of the 12 companies made proposals. As a consequence, the bidding process was annulled. On November 12, 2016, the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) had approved the re-tendering of the feasibility study contract, but that was not done. Livense CSO ultimately got the contract with cabinet’s blessings. The new bridge is expected to connect Houston, East Bank of Demerara and Versailles, West Bank Demerara.