Sod turned for $327M farm-to-market asphalt road

– Onverwagt, other communities to benefit

Farmers and residents of Onverwagt and nearby communities on the West Coast Berbice will soon benefit from a $327 million asphaltic concrete road, scheduled to be completed in the next eight months.

Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance within the Office of the President, Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh and Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha officially turned the sod for the construction of the farm-to-market road on Saturday.

In his address at the ceremony Dr. Singh said the construction of the road is part of the Government’s comprehensive development agenda. The Government is determined, he said, to ensure that Guyana takes its rightful place as an agricultural powerhouse in the Region.

Contractor Romel Jagroop interacts with Minister of Finance Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh and Minister of Agriculture Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

“We must not only be famous and well known for the fact that we are a large oil and gas producer, we must also be well known for the fact that we are finally realising our potential that has been spoken of for generations.

We are finally realising our potential to be the breadbasket of the Caribbean and a major supplier of food products throughout the hemisphere and beyond.”

Dr. Singh noted that around the world the there are many oil-producing countries, which have not been able to translate oil wealth into broad-based prosperity.

“And on the basis of the commitment we give to the people of this country in our manifesto, we will ensure that the Guyanese economy is widely diversified and never finds itself in a situation where it is solely dependent on or solely exposed to oil and gas,” he said.

Dr. Singh noted too that President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has charged his Ministers to ensure that every productive sector of the economy realises a dramatic and rapid transformation “so that we see a booming non-oil economy.”

Minister of Finance Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh and Minister of Agriculture Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha turn the sod for the start of the road project

Meanwhile, Minister Mustapha said the Government and Ministry’s plan is to modernise infrastructure. Therefore, when he took up his Ministerial post in August, he prioritised repairing dilapidated drainage structures and clearing clogged canals and impassable dams.

“We believe investment in infrastructure is required to make the agriculture sector viable and sustainable. Without key investment in infrastructure, service delivery may not be able to take place.

“If we want to improve production and productivity, then as a facilitator, as a Government, we have to put the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure that we complement the farmers so that they can produce,” the Agriculture Minister said.

The existing road

Minister Mustapha said this year six new farm-to-market roads will be constructed across the country. Three would be built in Demerara-Mahaica (Region Five).

Critical infrastructure like these, the Minister said, would help farmers to reduce production costs.  As such, a committee would be formed to work along with the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority to monitor the project to ensure value for money.

The farm-to-market road will benefit many farmers and open more than 30,000 acres of land, which farmers can access throughout the year.

Several farmers of the area expressed thanks to the Government for the project.

Farmer Araf Khan

“The condition of the road right now, hey meh can’t even reach at the rice field easily…  bad, real bad. So when this new road build it will benefit we a lot. You can go with even car at your rice field,” farmer Mr. Araf Khan said.

Another farmer, Mr. Joe Hookumchand also commended the work.

Farmer Joe Hookumchand

“Minister Mustapha is a man of his word and he deliver to the farmer and we are happy, especially for this road, this extension of this road now, we are so happy. Thousands of farmers, cattle farmers, cash crop farmers, people living in Abary, and so many others, fishermen; this place is a tourist place sometimes when it comes to the dry season families come down here,” he said.

The road contract was awarded to Romel Jagroop General Construction Services. the contractor has committed to working within the specifications to build the five-kilometre road.