THE Ministry of Public Works has ended the year 2021 on a high note, having been able to complete 85 per cent of its budgeted capital projects, according to subject minister, Bishop Juan Edghill.
The minister, in making this disclosure at the Arthur Chung Conference Center (ACCC) on Monday, stated that the completed projects had a budgeted cost of $38 billion.
He noted that the incomplete projects are part of two foreign-funded initiatives: The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)’s $22.5 billion Linden-Mabura Hill Road Project, and the US$158 million Government of India funded retailored Ogle to Eccles Bypass Road Project.
“So, while we are reporting 85 per cent, what we are basically saying to the nation is that everything we set out to do in 2021 we were able to do it, and we have lost some time particularly on the foreign-funded programmes as a result of engagements in the greater process with the financial institutions or international agencies,” Minister Edghill said.
He noted that both projects are currently in the final procurement stage, and he assured the public that contracts for both projects will be signed before the conclusion of the first quarter of 2022. Thereafter, the works will begin.
He also noted that the ministry is in constant discussions with both the CDB and the Government of India to ensure that Guyanese benefit soon from these projects.
“That is the Linden to Mabura Road, which is still at the procurement stage, engaging the CDB; and we hope to have that concluded within a matter of weeks, and the East Coast-East Bank Bypass Road/Ogle to Eccles, which is funded by the Government of India. That is also at its final procurement stages, in terms of its evaluation and preparation for award of contract,” Minister Edghill added.
The Linden-Mabura Hill Road upgrade will cover 121 kilometers. Once completed, it will improve connectivity between Guyana’s hinterland and coastal communities. The project is the first phase of a wider plan to develop a transportation corridor from Georgetown, the capital city, to Lethem, on the southwest border. The Bank, in a release, has said that the road will connect the port in Georgetown with northern Brazil.
“The upgrading of this portion of the largely unpaved road from Linden to Mabura Hill is more than an infrastructure project; it will include social safeguards that will ensure residents benefit from the road development, and environmental protections to preserve the ecosystem,” the CDB said.
“The project will also include activities to mitigate risks associated with increased development, which will build social resilience in the communities along the corridor, and preserve the rights of vulnerable groups,” CDB’s acting Vice-President (Operations), Diana Wilson Patrick was quoted as saying when the project was announced in 2020.
Similarly, the Ogle to Eccles four-kilometer road link, which was delayed for almost seven years, is expected to bring tremendous benefits when completed. It will ease traffic woes along the lower East Bank Demerara (EBD) corridor.
Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar had said that the new, four-lane project will extend from Ogle to Eccles, rather than to Diamond, a move that will save taxpayers approximately US$158 million.
Meanwhile, Minister Edghill has noted that it was no easy feat to achieve this high percentage of project completion, as there were several hurdles along the way. He noted that in addition to the issues faced in the supply chain, the countrywide flood significantly delayed several infrastructural projects.
“The team of engineers and project managers have done an incredible job of getting our implementation to where it is even under the difficult challenges of COVID-19, shipping challenges, floods in several regions where works were being undertaken and responding to a number of emergencies that occurred during the year,” he added.