Canada signals interest in constructing Corentyne River bridge


…State’s commercial arm, large Canadian firm to collaborate for bid

With the Government seeking Expressions of Interest (EoIs) to design the upcoming Corentyne River bridge, outgoing Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Lilian Chatterjee has revealed that the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) is among those interested in building the bridge.

During an exclusive interview with this publication, Chatterjee made this disclosure. She explained that the CCC, which is Canada’s commercial arm, is also collaborating with another very large Canadian company for the contract to build the Corentyne River bridge. Ultimately though, Chatterjee noted that it is up to the Governments of Guyana and Suriname to choose the best contractor for the job.

“We’ve expressed interest verbally and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a governmental organisation, is working with a very large private sector company in Canada and they’ve just put out an Expression of Interest,” the High Commissioner explained.

“So, I fully expect that they will do this, in terms of an Expression of Interest to build the bridge between Guyana and Suriname. And then it’s up to the Governments of Guyana and Suriname, who they will choose to build the bridge.”

Inews senior journalist, Jarryl Bryan speaking with outgoing Canadian High Commissioner Her Excellency, Lilian Chatterjee

Back in October, President Dr Irfaan Ali had held a virtual meeting with High Commissioner Chatterjee and representatives of the CCC to discuss several major infrastructure projects in Guyana, including the Corentyne River bridge.

President Ali had pointed out that Guyana is focusing on key catalytic infrastructure needs which are important relative to Guyana’s population and size, following a brief presentation by CCC representative, Andrew Shisko.

Prior to the Government’s consultation with CCC, Guyana’s Public Works Minister Juan Edghill and Suriname’s Public Works Minister, Dr Riad Nurmohamed, had visited the site of the proposed Guyana-Suriname river bridge across the Corentyne River.

With the recent commitments to bridge Guyana and Suriname over the Corentyne River within five years, this project is expected to open up the pathway for other major developmental projects including the much-anticipated deep-water harbour project in Guyana.

The bridge will not only link the two neighbouring countries but also open up access to greater economic opportunities beyond them into French Guyana, and through the road network being developed into Brazil, and eventually further into South America.

Transparency & accountability

Meanwhile, Chatterjee lauded the transparency surrounding the project and also expressed the view that the President Dr Irfaan Ali Administration has hit the ground running since coming to power as it relates to infrastructural projects. She noted that there are several such projects which are being done simultaneously.

“They’ve been very transparent in their process. They’ve been doing Expressions of Interest. They’ve been doing bids and tenders. So, we’ll see who they select for that and other infrastructure projects,” Chatterjee said.

“Ali’s Administration hit the ground running when they got elected and sworn in. And they’re doing a lot on the infrastructure side, all at the same time. So, I think in a few years, you’re going to see all those changes.”

Besides the Corentyne bridge, the Government is also looking to build a new bridge across the Demerara River. The Government is aiming to have a new fixed span, four-lane bridge constructed over the Demerara River that will be able to bridge the East and West Banks of Demerara from Nandy Park to La Grange, reduce traffic build-up and last for at least the next 50 years.

According to the Government’s invitation for Expressions of Interest (EoIs) and prequalification of qualified contractors, firms are being sought to submit proposals for both the design of the bridge and for available financing options.

On Friday, it was revealed that forty-two bids were submitted to the Public Works Ministry for the construction of the new Demerara Harbour Bridge. The bids were removed from the tender box, counted and stamped in the presence of Public Works Minister Juan Edghill, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and contactors at the Public Works Ministry, Wights Lane, Kingston.

Other upcoming projects include the Diamond/Ogle bypass road. The bypass project will see some 26 kilometres of road constructed, linking two of the country’s main thoroughfares. This new road link will also be connected to key communities in Georgetown and along the East Bank of Demerara. These include Diamond, Mocha and Eccles – all on the East Bank – and Aubrey Barker Road in Georgetown. These connections will prove crucial in diverting traffic.