1 Dutch, 5 Chinese companies bid to construct Corentyne River bridge

An artist’s impression of the bridge

Since the Government has gone out to tender for a company to construct the Corentyne River bridge, a total of six bids have been submitted for the transformational project, including five Chinese bids and one Dutch company also entering the fray.

The bids were opened at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) on Monday, with the procuring entity being the Ministry of Public Works. Among the Chinese bidders was China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

Also submitting bids were the State-owned China Road and Bridge Cooperation (CRBC), China Gezhouba Group Company Limited in association with CEIG; China Overseas Engineering Group Co Ltd (COVEC) in association with China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co Ltd (CREEC), and China Railway First Group Co Ltd (CRFG).

China Railway Construction Caribbean Company Limited & China Railway Construction was another Chinese bid that was submitted. Meanwhile, Ballast Nedam, a construction company that is based in The Netherlands, was the lone non-Chinese company that submitted a bid for the project.

Back in May of this year, a US$2 million contract was signed in Suriname for several preliminary studies and research to be conducted on the Corentyne bridge, while a call for Expressions of Interest (EoIs) was simultaneously launched for the construction of the link between the two neighbouring nations.

The Governments of Guyana and Suriname have already decided on a Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Maintain (DBFOM) model for the Corentyne River bridge that will be constructed via a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) arrangement. It will have a lifespan of 100 years.

The Corentyne River bridge will run approximately 3.1 kilometres, connecting Moleson Creek in Guyana to South Drain in Suriname with a landing on Long Island in the Corentyne River, where a commercial hub and tourist destination will be established.

Running from Moleson Creek to Long Island, the bridge will be a low-level structure, approximately one kilometre long; with a 2200-metre (2.2 km) road across Long Island and a high bridge, spanning 2100 metres (2.1 km) thereafter.

At the high end of the bridge, which will facilitate marine traffic, it will cater for 40,000 to 45,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage) capacity featuring a vertical (height) clearance of 43 metres and a horizonal (width) clearance of about 100 metres.

In addition, both ends of the bridge will have connecting roads. The prioritisation of the bridge across the Corentyne River has been much touted by both President Dr Irfaan Ali and his Surinamese counterpart, President Chandrikapersad Santokhi.

In October 2020, Public Works Ministers Juan Edghill and Dr Riad Nurmohamed had visited the site of the proposed Guyana-Suriname river bridge across the Corentyne River. There were three points of demarcation identified – Moleson Creek, Long Island in the Corentyne River and South Drain in Suriname. Both Ministers planted flags on the Guyana side of the river and then the Suriname side of the river – where the bridge is to be constructed – as well as on Long Island.

Then in February 2021, the Governments of Guyana and Suriname had invited companies to submit EoIs to provide consultancy services for the conduct of a feasibility study and the preparation of detailed designs for the construction of the bridge.

The Corentyne River Bridge will not only link the two neighbouring countries, but also open up access to greater economic opportunities beyond them into French Guiana, and through the road network being developed into Brazil, and eventually further into South America.
Moreover, it is anticipated that Long Island will become an economic hub and free zone that will also see major infrastructural development such as hotels, recreational parks, entertainment spots, tourist attractions, malls, and farmers’ markets.