COME October 3, 2021, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government will be moving one step closer to realising a spanking new Demerara River Crossing. According to President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, the tenders submitted for the project will be opened on the aforementioned date.
Submissions of bids were initially due today, August 3; however, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the nine shortlisted bidders were unable to meet the deadline. The contractors had also sought clarification relating to several aspects of the project.
As a result, consultations were hosted with the Ministry of Public Works, and an extension was granted.
Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill, had explained that following the June engagements, the issues raised were clarified and the bidders had all reiterated their commitment to the project.
As it is, the bidders are expected to submit proposals which require them to bid on two options: first, a Design-Build & Finance option; and second, a Design-Build-Operate & Finance Option.
Edghill said that bidders were also reminded of the government’s strict two-year deadline for completion of the project, once the contract is signed.
The government had hoped that the project could commence by the end of 2021; however, it is unclear whether this remains possible. The nine pre-qualified bidders were selected following an ‘Expressions of Interest’ exercise which saw 54 firms indicating their interest in the project. Thereafter, 44 entities moved on to complete the registration process, with a total of 21 companies subsequently submitted to become qualified. All of the bidders were from outside of Guyana, and include China, Suriname, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands.
While an estimated cost is to be determined following the submission of bids, the East Bank to West Bank link is likely to be a “four-lane, high-span fixed bridge; the new ‘fly-over’ structure is intended to stretch across the Demerara River from La Grange on the West Bank to Nandy Park on the East Bank.
According to the EoI, the new design of the Demerara Harbour Bridge will not require opening or retraction to allow for maritime traffic, as is the situation with the existing structure. The new bridge is likely to carry a lifespan of at least 50 years.
While the existing 43-year-old bridge is unable to adequately accommodate the daily and growing traffic, it is not necessarily a structure that is substandard. A few years ago, under the leadership of Robeson Benn, the then Ministry of Public Works had denounced the “myth” that the bridge had an expiration date. It was explained at the time that the bridge is one that can be constantly maintained, in that almost all of its components are “repairable”. It is unclear whether the government will utilise the structure at another location in the country.
Nonetheless, President Ali had often singled out the new bridge to be one of the major components of a modernised East Bank Demerara corridor.