> $5B for the construction and rehabilitation of roads
> $1.4 billion for the completion and rehabilitation of airstrips
> $1.4 billion for the completion of water wells and distribution networks
> $1.755 billion for the provision of solar systems to a number of households
> $375 million upgrade of the electricity distribution networks
By Tamica Garnett
FIVE billion dollars for the construction and rehabilitation of roads; $1.4 billion for the completion and rehabilitation of airstrips; $1.4 billion for the completion of water wells and distribution networks, and $1.755 billion for the provision of solar systems to households, represent just a fraction of the spending planned in the 2023 budget for various infrastructural developments in hinterland communities.
Under the Ministry of Public Works, the $5 billion for construction and rehabilitation of roads includes hinterland roads in Regions One, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, and 10. This $5 billion adds to the $3.4 billion that was spent under this project last year.
Airstrips scheduled for rehabilitation under $1.4 billion include those at Eteringbang, Karisparu and Ekereku Bottom, and the rehabilitation of airstrips at Paruima, Imbaimadai and Matthew’s Ridge. The $1.4 billion is part of an overall $3 billion being spent between 2022 to 2024 to improve the airstrips.
In 2022, the government allocated $600 million towards the upgrade of airstrips in Lethem, Baramita, Paramakatoi, and Kaieteur. Hinterland and domestic tourism is expected to directly benefit from these upgrades, which is critical to ensure ease of access.
These interventions, rehabilitations and upgrades will make the airstrips compliant with the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority’s minimum engineering standards. Moreover, it will improve safety for travellers, aircraft, and personnel using the airstrips.
Over the years, travelling between the hinterland and the coast has been costly, making access to Guyana’s unique eco-tourism brand expensive. As the PPP/C Government continues to deliver on its transformative agenda, the last two budgets have seen several investments in airstrip upgrades that will help to reduce the cost of travelling by air.
The $1.4 billion has been budgeted by the Ministry of Housing and Water (MoHW) for the completion of wells and distribution networks, which includes those in Regions Seven, Eight and Nine. The $1.4 billion also covers provision for new wells and water supply systems in Regions One, Two and Nine, and the supply of well drilling materials, solar photovoltaic systems, electromechanical equipment, pipes, fittings, spares and accessories for water supply systems.
This year’s resources being invested into water supply in the hinterland communities is part of an overall aggressive plan by the Guyana Water Inc to improve water supply coverage in the remote communities.
In the two years that they have been in office, the government has installed 20 new wells in hinterland villages across the country, increasing water coverage to the Amerindian communities from 46 per cent to 63 per cent.
The ultimate goal is 100 per cent water coverage for Amerindian villages across the country by 2025. Ensuring clean, potable water to hinterland communities is part of the government’s overall plans to improve the quality of life for Guyana’s Amerindian population and the rest of the country.
Access to potable water in Amerindian villages is even linked to a better quality of life and empowerment for women and girls since they are disproportionately affected.
In 2022, in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), over 4,000 residents from communities in the middle and lower Mazaruni benefitted from improved water supply through a $440M programme to implement new programmes and to expand existing water systems.
Upgrading of the electricity distribution networks at Port Kaituma, Matthew’s Ridge, Kato, Mahdia and Linden, are on the cards under the Office of the Prime Minister to the tune of $375 million. The project will see improved electricity generation and distribution, and improved operational efficiency. This is in addition to the $1.755 billion budgeted for the provision of solar systems for households in the hinterland and riverain communities.
In the Hinterland Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture Development Project under the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), another $550 million has also been provided for. This project will see the creation of investment plans for producer group enterprises, the establishment of investment fund for entrepreneurial, agricultural-based ventures in Regions One and Nine.
The project also includes works to develop infrastructure to promote community resilience, and see institutional strengthening.