THE physical infrastructure of Guyana is undergoing a major overhaul. It is no exaggeration to say that the physical landscape of Guyana is rapidly changing, some of it, but certainly not all, driven by the emerging oil and gas industry.
One indication of growth and development is the extent to which people can travel from one place to another with reasonable comfort, and also the ease of communicating with family and friends over long distances. On both fronts, the country is doing well. This is evident from the several new roads under construction in all parts of the country and the upgrading and expansion of communication infrastructure. So far, over $8B has been spent on infrastructural development and billions more are earmarked for spending before the end of this fiscal year.
Guyana may still be some distance away from that of highly developed nation status, but the indications are there for all to see that we are well on the road to such an eventuality.
Those who travel to and from Guyana cannot fail to notice the modernisation initiatives at the country’s international airport at Timehri, the Cheddi Jagan international Airport. Gone are the days when passengers have to climb the stairs of waiting aircraft, at times during heavy downpour or scorching heat. That has now been fully modernised according to industry standards and further modernisation works are currently underway.
The roadways to and from the airport have also been expanded and resurfaced, not to mention the enhanced ambience of the areas surrounding the airport. One recent innovation has been the floral roundabout on the approach to the airport, thanks to the initiative of First Lady Arya Ali.
A new international hotel is also earmarked for construction close to the airport, which will further add to the changing landscape.
These are just a few of the several major projects in Guyana which when completed will have a transformative impact on the Guyanese community. The Sheriff Street- Mandela Road Network and Expansion Project, which included the asphaltic paving of Sheriff Street from the Rupert Craig Highway to Durey Lane has been substantially completed. To that must be added the East Coast to the East Bank bypass road and the Mandela Road to Diamond bypass roads, which when completed, will make life much easier for commuters.
Guyana is going places in terms of infrastructural development which will position the country to take advantage of new opportunities arising out of our new status as an oil and gas producer. Completion of the deep-water harbour in the mouth of Berbice River, the construction of a bridge linking Guyana and Suriname and the resurfacing of the Linden to Lethem Road will be major catalysts for greater trade and commerce among our neighbouring countries of Suriname and Brazil.
In all of this, our hinterland communities have not been left behind. Close to one billion dollars has been allocated to the upgrade of hinterland roads, some of which were badly damaged by the recent floods.
In addition to roads, several bridges have also been earmarked for construction. As pointed out by Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, the recent floods have highlighted the fragility of timber bridges and the need for more climate-resilient structures.
The Government of Guyana must be commended for putting resources in the area of infrastructural development, which is so necessary for overall national development. Investors are much more likely to invest in a country that has the requisite supporting infrastructure in place such as roads, bridges, harbours, telephone service, electricity and hotel accommodation, among others.
It is worth noting that most of the infrastructural development works currently underway were initiated under the previous PPP/C administration. After the APNU+AFC Coalition took power in May 2015, the momentum was slowed down and in a few cases, the projects were aborted. Now that the PPP/C is back in power, there has been a rekindling of that momentum.
The landscape of Guyana is changing. President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has already hinted that his administration will move to create a modern Guyana which will see new poles of development and a new infrastructural network which will catapult Guyana to a new era of prosperity for all.