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Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill
Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill

–Minister Edghill outlines ‘modernisation and transformation’ agenda

MINISTER of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, said Government would be “accelerating” the modernisation, transformation, and creation of sustainable development in the infrastructure sector, which seek to enhance the lives of Guyanese further.

Minister Edghill, during his presentation on Wednesday to the National Assembly on the 2023 National Budget debate, stated that the Government would be focused on the task, especially to pick up after the shortcomings of the A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition during its time in Government.

“I rise to support a strategic, purpose-driven and well-orchestrated budget to continue to promote Guyana’s development to bring about transformation, modernisation, and prosperity for all the people of Guyana,” the Minister said as he addressed the House.

Over a week ago, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance Dr. Ashni Singh, announced the $781.9 billion 2023 budget, with $136 billion specifically set aside for roads and bridges.

“Budget 2023 makes allocations for about $136 billion that will be spent on roads and bridges. But, Mr. Speaker, when I seek to tell you what we will do with the monies that have been appropriated, let me tell you about our scorecard of what has transpired since we are in office in 2020,” the Minister said.

Some of the projects that will commence and continue with funding from Budget 2023 include the New Demerara River Bridge, Corentyne River Bridge, Linden to Mabura Road, Wismar Bridge, and Kurupukari River Crossing Bridge, among many more.

Minister Edghill said that, in the October 2020 budget, the administration completed four coastal bridges; in 2021, 14 coastal bridges-moving them from wood to concrete were completed. In 2022, 13 coastal and 45 hinterland bridges are currently under construction, thus “moving from wood to concrete being built to international standards,” while maintaining 40 bridges.

“Are you seeing the magnitude of what is taking place as it relates to Guyana’s development in terms of rehabilitation of main access roads?” the Minister said to the house.

Standing at the podium, Minister Edghill recalled standing before the National Assembly as an opposition member and criticising the project’s lack of progress.
“I’m happy to announce that, currently, the last report as of January 20, 144 Guyanese are employed working on the Linden to Mabura road. There’s a mobilisation of more than 176 pieces of equipment that is actively engaged in that role,” he said.

He further told the house that Budget 2023 will also cater for a new office complex for government offices with the possibility of accommodating some 6000 workers, consolidating old government offices into one place to ensure greater efficiency.

The minister said this would move away from the multiple buildings that must be maintained and the monies paid for office space rentals.

“Are you aware that we are advancing that 2.8 kilometres of that four-lane, high-span concrete bridge across the Demerara River? That contract is advancing,” he told the House Speaker.

Additionally, he singled out the construction of the four-lane highway along the railroad embankment and the development of the continuation of the East Coast Road, which is also covered in the 2023 budget.

Turning to river transportation, Minister Edghill informed the House that the new Indian ferry, the MV Malisa, has already left Kolkata and will arrive in Georgetown in the first quarter of 2023.

With the ferry coming, the Minister said that two wharves would have to be built at Kingston and Port Kaituma to adequately cater for the “roll on- roll off “type of ferry. He added that further advancements would have to be made for Mabaruma and Morawhanna stellings.

“I would like to assure the people of Guyana that team PPP/C, under the guidance of His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali and the other cabinet ministers guiding the Ministry of Public Works, will continue to do all that is necessary for the modernisation, transformation, and development of Guyana,”.

He continued: “Our commitment is to serve all the people without discrimination. We will not be manipulated by criticisms to give preferential treatment to prove any point to anyone. We will continue to work with our objective criteria in ensuring that in the delivery of services, people who never had, people who never benefit, and people who didn’t benefit will now begin to benefit first while we bring benefit to all the people of Guyana.”

The Minister added that the PPP/C government has a “track record of implementation, and getting things done,” with the budget allocation “to ensure that Guyana’s development, transformation, and modernisation is not stymied, but rather accelerated.”

“Somebody wants us to mash brakes, but we mashing the accelerator. We know which peddle to put our foot on…We are mashing the accelerator because the people of Guyana are impatient. “They want development, they want Guyana to modernise and that’s what we are doing, and we will deliver to them.” Minister Edghill said to loud roars from his side of the House.

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