China Eximbank approves loan to complete ECD Road Expansion

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Some two years after preliminary works were completed along the East Coast Demerara (ECD) Highway, the Guyana Government has received the US$45 million concessional loan from the China Eximbank to complete the road project.

According to a release from the Finance Ministry on Thursday, Minister Winston Jordan on Monday last signed the Concessional Loan Agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China for RMB Yuan 313,838,800 or approximately US$45,318,337.

The expansion of the public road at Better Hope
The expansion of the public road at Better Hope

This concessional loan was achieved less than two months after the inking of the Framework Agreement between the Governments of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the People’s Republic of China that took place on November 23, 2016. Works are expected to commence during the first quarter of this year.

The Ministry noted that residents along the East Coast can begin to look forward to reduced travel time and transport costs and less traffic congestion following the widening and improvement of the East Coast Demerara Highway.

“Importantly, this section of the roadway between Better Hope and Belfield links numerous highly populated villages to the Capital City. When completed, the road will enhance the mobility and accessibility of commuters to and from Georgetown. It will also positively impact the accident rate and vehicular maintenance,” the release from the Finance Minister details.

The ECD Road Expansion project entails a four-lane extension from Better Hope to Annandale, and two-lane upgrade from Annandale to Belfield with a total length of 16,998 kilometres of roads and 33,996 kilometres of drains to be built.

Apart from the road expansion, the residents were also going to benefit from the project, which included improved drainage since the East Coast is usually susceptible to floods. Initially, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government had tried to finance the road expansion project, but the funding was not readily available; hence, the Administration decided to use local funds for preliminary works and use the intended funds from the Chinese to complete the works.

The preliminary works for the four-lane upgrade were completed at the end of 2014. This included the widening of the roads and installation of drainage facilities. The project was divided into seven lots which were awarded to different contractors.

Lot one was initially awarded to Falcon Transportation and Construction Services; however, the contract was terminated by the Public Works Ministry in 2012 and awarded last year to Dipcon Engineering Services, which is also tasked with works on Lot Two. The two lots, which covered from Better Hope to La Bonne Intention (LBI), were joined into one.

Dipcon also worked on Lot Five (Triumph to Mon Repos). Courtney Benn Contracting Services Limited worked on Lot Three, covering LBI and Beterverwagting. Preliminary works on Lot Four (Beterverwagting to Triumph) were done by Compustruct Engineering Inc.

Lot Six covers Mon Repos to De Endragt and was awarded to Colin Talbot Contracting Services. This construction company also handled works on Lot Seven (De Endragt to Good Hope).

With the China Eximbank putting up most of the finances for the road expansion, Guyana had awarded the contract to China Railway First Group for some US$42.7 million. The Chinese construction company reportedly put in the lowest bid of US$46.994 million. The PPP/C Administration had stated that it was saving some $2.8 billion by giving the contract to China Railway First Group.

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