The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved funding for the road project spanning 121 kilometres from Linden to Mabura Hill – the first phase of the much-anticipated construction of a Linden-Lethem road connectivity.
The US$190 million project is being funded by a US$112-million loan from CDB, a grant of £50 million from the United Kingdom Government through the CDB-administered United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund (UK-CIF); and a contribution of US$12 million from the Government of Guyana. It represents the largest project that CDB has financed in its 50 years of existence.
The project is the first phase of a wider plan to develop a transportation corridor from Georgetown to Lethem on the southwest border; connecting the Port in Georgetown with northern Brazil. It will include the construction of a crossing at Kurupaukari to replace the current ferry, which has limited capacity and does not operate on a 24-hour basis.
Acting Vice President of Operations at the CDB, Diana Wilson Patrick said, “The upgrading of this portion of the largely unpaved road from Linden to Mabura Hill is more than an infrastructure project. It will include social safeguards that will ensure residents benefit from the road development; and environmental protections, to preserve the ecosystem. The project will also include activities to mitigate risks associated with increased development, which will build social resilience in the communities along the corridor and preserve the rights of vulnerable groups.”
The unpaved 450-kilometre road from Linden to Lethem has been at the center of many woes, due to its impassable state in the rainy season, and moreover, flooding along low-lying sections of the road. The upgraded road corridor will provide year-round connectivity between Linden and Mabura Hill, improving conditions for local and long-haul transport which can increase trade between Guyana and Brazil.
According to Acting British High Commissioner, Ray Davidson, this is testimony to the UK’s commitment to supporting Guyana in critical infrastructural development.
“The UK’s support to the Linden to Mabura Hill Road Project demonstrates our strong commitment to Guyana – a key partner for the UK. This transformative project will be critical for the development of Guyana’s north-south connection. It will contribute significantly to economic development and social inclusion, while being climate resilient,” Davidson shared.
Along with the improved road network, residents in the remote communities along the Linden to Mabura Hill corridor will see immediate benefits from improved access to basic essential services and an expansion in economic activity. The project is also expected to bolster ecotourism along the corridor by improving access to several nature reserves, such as the Iwokrama Rain Forest.
Funding for the Linden-Lethem road project was which was put on pause by the British Government, owing to the recently-concluded political upheaval in Guyana. Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill said that they were in talks with the UK counterparts, and the possibility was open to commence works in 2021.