US$260M contract signed for New Demerara River Bridge
The Ministry of Public Works on Wednesday, signed a $52 billion (US$260 million) contract for the construction of the long-awaited new Demerara River Bridge.
The move falls into government’s plans to expand and modernise Guyana’s transport infrastructure, and significantly reduce the incessant traffic woes on the East Bank of Demerara.
The project, which has been long in the making by the PPP/C Administration, was awarded to China Railway Construction Corporation Limited. It is expected to commence immediately, and be completed within two years.
The hybrid designed bridge will feature a modern four-lane structure (two carriageways), cycle lane, with a 2.65 kilometers length, driving surface of about 23.6 meters or 77.8 feet, with a lifespan of some 100 years.
The new crossing will replace the current bridge, which has already outlived its span by some 40 plus years. The current structure, with its mechanical and other issues, causes hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs each year.
Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill, M.P. said the signing of the contract is the culmination of a decade of planning to improve the flow of traffic on both land and water.
“From 2013 to 2022, the average daily traffic across the Demerara River has increased from about 13,781 vehicles per day to more than 22,000 vehicles per day in both directions.
This increase is more than 62 per cent, and it comes as no surprise. It has translated into congestion, discomfort and frustration experienced by everyday users of the Demerara Harbour Bridge. Of course, this inconvenience becomes more acute during peak hours,” he said
Under the leadership of His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Minister Edghill stressed that the issue will no longer exist. He said while the construction will cause some inconvenience to the travelling public, it will serve as a monumental progress and development for the country.
The new bridge will provide better connectivity to the East Bank Demerara (EBD) road, the Diamond-to-Ogle bypass road on the eastern side of the river, as well as the West Bank Demerara Road including the Parika-to-Schoonard road on the western side of the river.
The minister said government, “will work hard every day to ensure that this, what we are signing today is not just a document with ink on it, but very swiftly it will be an infrastructure that we all be able to utilise.”
Minister within the ministry, Deodat Indar, M.P., said the old bridge has served its purpose.
“The People’s Progressive Party /Civic Government has made this promise in its manifesto leading up to the elections. His Excellency, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has today made that promise in his manifesto, a reality with this historic signing of agreement to construct a new Demerara River Bridge.”
Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said the contract signing coincides with several transformative initiatives being undertaken across the country. These include the commencement of the procurement process for the construction of a new road to align the bridge from the West Demerara side to Crane.
“We are witnessing history today, and not history in the sense of a one-off isolated project, but history in the sense of a major transformative project that is part of a much larger, comprehensive plan for transforming Guyana…the making of the modern Guyana is well underway and we, today’s generation, are privileged to be part of it.”
He recommitted government’s support to alleviate every source of inconvenience and hardship suffered by Guyanese; be it infrastructure, educational and job opportunities.
“This government’s commitment is to achieve a real, visible, tangible, meaningful and lasting transformation of all aspects of life for the benefit of all of the people of Guyana, and this bridge constitutes an important part of that much broader agenda,” he added.
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Guyana, Guo Haiyan, in brief remarks, said the bilateral project will strengthen the diplomatic ties between the Governments of China and Guyana.
“We believe this new bridge will be a landmark project in Guyana after completion. It will be effectively promoting the flow of people and logistics on both sides of the river which will save economic and time cost of transportation, and promote regional development.”
Works to be provided for the construction of the new bridge will be high quality, according to Haiyan.
The project attracted 14 bidders, which were later reduced to nine firms from Europe, North America, and Latin America, among others.
Also present at the signing ceremony were Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, M.P., Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, M.P., Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond, M.P. among other officials.