PRESIDENT, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, in an address to the nation on the occasion of the first anniversary of his PPP/C administration in office, spoke of the several infrastructural developments that have taken place over the one-year period commencing August 2, 2020. Among these are several massive infrastructural programmes which, when completed, will have a transformative impact on the lives of the Guyanese people.
The President made mention of the new bypass roads currently under construction linking the East Bank of Demerara with the city of Georgetown and with the East Coast of Demerara as examples of projects that will greatly ease the current level of stress among commuters due to traffic congestion. Those who commute to and from work from the East Bank to the City of Georgetown will have a much better appreciation of the importance of these roads both in terms of traffic congestion and the consequential loss of vital manhours. When monetised, they amount to significant loss to the economy in terms of production and productivity.
The construction of new roads, however, goes way beyond the loss of productivity, inconvenience and stress levels experienced by the travelling public. And while it is true that some progress has been made within recent years following the expansion and upgrading of the East Bank Road to that of four-lane, coupled with better traffic control measures put in place by the Guyana Police Force during peak hours, it still continue to pose serious challenges from time to time in terms of traffic build-up.
One consequence of the construction of new roads which cuts across new and virgin territory is that it opens up new avenues of economic growth and development. Lands that were idle, sub-optimally utilised or in some cases abandoned become almost instantaneously prime property with the passage of a road and the real estate value of those lands suddenly soars. Billions of dollars are added to the country’s gross domestic product, not to mention the rise in property value belonging to persons living in close to the new roads.
No less important from a developmental perspective is the potential for the establishment of new housing schemes and other ancillary developments such as the mushrooming of trade, commerce and business as a whole.
It is the above context that the construction of a new four-lane highway announced by the President from the West Bank of Demerara to Parika and the Ogle by-pass road to Diamond and ultimately to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport have to be seen. As it currently stands, there is just a single road that links practically the whole of coastal Guyana to the country’s main international airport which could potentially be risky should anything untoward happen to that main East Bank corridor.
At a macro-level, the construction of the road linking Suriname and Guyana and the road link between Linden and Lethem will create new frontiers of development between Guyana and its neighbours and, for that matter, with the whole of Latin America. There is already the Takatu Bridge linking Brazil and Guyana and, with the construction of the Corentyne River Bridge, a whole new world of opportunities will be opened up linking countries, communities and peoples in ways never before envisaged.
Apart from these mega-projects, existing roads will be expanded and resurfaced including the East Coast Demerara highway. Several new roads will also be built including the 25-kilometre all-weather road from No.58 Village to Canje Creek. This will open up large swathes of agricultural lands and will be a further boost to rice and cattle production in Region Six and the country as a whole.
There is without doubt a major expansion and overhaul of the physical and social infrastructure in the country which augers well for our current and future development. These, together with the construction of a new bridge across the Demerara River and the other oil and gas related projects will certainly catapult Guyana to the status as a country with new and exciting developmental prospects.