Preparations to begin construction of Guyana/Brazil road link underway

Press Release, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thursday, August 9, 2018

Authorities in Guyana and Brazil are working to complete the terms of reference for the design of the Lethem to Mabura Hill within two months.

Director of Northern and Western South America at the Brazilian Ministry of External Affairs, His Excellency Norberto Moretti, has revealed that efforts are made to open the bidding process by the end of the year.

“The goal by the end of the year is to have the biding going on. It’s an ambitious timetable but it’s a realistic one and we are working very hard to get it done,” he expressed.

Ambassador Morretti also believes that there is great interest on the part of the Brazilian government to get the road completed.

The journey from Lethem to Georgetown takes as many as 13 hours depending on the state of the road. It has recently become impassable. Once paved, the projection is that the trip will take no more than five hours.

In a recent interview, Ambassador Moretti explained the benefits to Brazil and the factors that have intensified the political will to see the project through to completion. “It is clearer now the potential benefits of getting this road paved; Brazil is very aware of its shortcomings in terms of infrastructure and the need to bring down production costs.” According to him, authorities have also been trying to ensure the country’s development agenda is more geographically distributed.

Brazil’s wealth and production activity have been largely concentrated in the southwest and southeast. While the Ambassador pointed out that the Northeastern and Central regions have seen progress in the last decade, he acknowledged the need for greater effort. Guyana’s recent discovery of oil and the projected increase in economic activity have also been cited as providing further motivation.

“The road will not only be convenient and useful; it will be fundamental,” Moretti explained.

Meanwhile, Guyana’s Ambassador to Brazil, His Excellency George Talbot, said Guyana is currently reviewing Brazil’s proposed text on the terms of reference (TOR) and will make requisite adjustments, if necessary. Once this is completed, the bidding process will begin.

He explained that the two countries are also examining possible funding arrangements to pave the road from Mabura Hill to Lethem. Phase one of the project covers approximately 125 kilometres of the road (Linden to Mabura Hill) and also includes a bridge across the Kurupukari River.

Guyana secured funding from the British Government through its UK Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF) programme to complete the design. The contract for this consultancy will be awarded shortly.

“I see a benefit to connecting Guyana domestically, Guyana to Brazil, and Brazil to the rest of the world,” Ambassador Talbot noted.

However, he explained that the road is just one aspect of the project. “The road will not be enough in itself, it will have to be allied with the construction of adequate port facilities. The equation is really the port plus the road to make the project economically viable.”