Maintenance of hinterland airstrips a Govt priority

– will create jobs
– Minister Edghill

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, MP, says the Government’s infrastructural transformation plans in the aviation sector would be backed by a strong maintenance plan.  

During a recent interview with DPI, the Minister said even after the hinterland airstrips are reconstructed, maintenance is key.

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, MP

“With the budgetary allocations that we have at this particular time, we could do some amount of capital work, but we do have an aggressive maintenance programme.”

Minister Edghill said the maintenance contracts would be given to the hinterland communities near the airstrips, creating employment in those areas and boosting the regional economies. 

Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, MP, inspects the Eteringbang airstrip

This would also help to realise the PPP/C Government’s manifesto promise of creating 50,000 jobs over five years.

“It is in their interest to do the job well because without the airstrip, they can’t get access and secondly, it is one way of creating employment for the people in that area.”

The Government has already budgeted in 2021, a whopping $415 million for the completion, upgrade and rehabilitation of several hinterland airstrips, to allow for safer and easier travel between the coast and the hinterland.

The upgrades to the hinterland airstrips will open more areas to frequent travel, increase business and foster more affordable travel costs. This will add to the economic development of the country as the transport of goods is also likely to become cheaper with frequent flights, eventually leading to cheaper flights for tourism and other leisure activities.

The upgraded Lethem airstrip

Minister Edghill said transporting materials to those far-flung areas is costly, but the Government is examining other options to use local materials.

“What happens in other parts of the world is the use of chemicals to treat the soil that is from the local area to be able to give you a surface that is acceptable. While we do that, I’ve seen that happen in certain parts of Africa.

A plane ascends from the Lethem airstrip

“I think many years ago former Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds had done an experiment with a piece of road in the Ituni area, between Ituni and Kwakwani, but I think the cost of the chemical was what was prohibitive. But it is now become more pronounced and you know the cost will come down, we’re looking at that.”

The upgrade of hinterland airstrips is part of the PPP/C Government’s wider agenda of infrastructural development.

The new Demerara River Bridge, a highway from the bridge to Parika, a bridge across the Corentyne River, the Ogle/Diamond bypass road among several of the major projects being developed.