Public Works Minister Juan Edghill has disclosed that the Guyana Government will soon be signing the contract for the much-anticipated four-lane Ogle, East Coast Demerara, to Eccles, East Bank Demerara bypass road project.
He made this disclosure while delivering the feature address on Sunday at the commissioning of a concrete plant – DCSN Manufacturing Inc, which is a subsidiary of renowned S Jagmohan Construction and General Supplies Inc and specialises in durable concrete products made with pre-stressed concrete.
According to Edghill, this bypass road will be a critical link for accessing the country’s two international airports – the Eugene F Correia International Airport in Ogle and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in Timehri, EBD.
“On Friday of this week, we’ll be signing the contract for the new four-lane highway that will eventually link the Ogle International Airport with the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. People coming from Berbice, heading to the airport would no longer have to come through Georgetown.”
“There’ll be a four lane… that four-lane will be passing [through] in the back lands; it will be opening up new lands and all of us who traverse the back lands, will know to get a four lane in, we have to cross those waterways so we will need bridges,” Edghill posited.
According to the Public Works Minister, those bridges can be built using the products manufactured by the Guyanese company. This sentiment was also shared by Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr K J Srinivasa.
Last month, it was reported that the Indian Exim Bank, which is funding the project, has already given its approval for India-based Ashoka Buildcon Limited to construct the road but the Guyana Government was awaiting “official” confirmation.
At the time, Edghill had related to this publication that once the confirmation comes, the contract would be signed. He noted that Government is “ready and eager” to start the bypass road project.
It was announced in January of this year that Ashoka Buildcon Limited won the contract to construct the road, ahead of two other Indian companies. Ashoka has built a number of bridges and roads. According to the company’s website, it even built a bridge in 38 days, namely the Mandve Bridge near Pandharpur, India. The company said the bridge was supposed to be built in 12 months.
In February 2021, the Government of India had approved the new scope of works for the redesigned bypass road project that would link the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) at Ogle to Haags Bosch in Eccles, on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD).
The Diamond-Ogle bypass project will see the construction of some 26 kilometres of road 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.
RITES Limited, an engineering consultancy company based in India, had undertaken a 10-month design consultancy, which produced a Detailed Project Report (DPR) outlining the draft final design of the bypass road. It is this report which recommended a four-lane highway as most feasible.
Rajendra Sothwal, a senior engineer with RITES Limited, had previously said the bypass road would include a metal beam barrier, concrete crash barrier, traffic signs and impact attenuators that reduce damage to infrastructure, pavement markings, highway lighting, a raised median that will reduce headlight glare.
Back in 2015, the Indian Government had provided a US$50 million Line of Credit (LOC) for the road link that was initially slated for Ogle to Diamond, EBD. However, the project cost was driven up to over $208 million by the previous A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government and the project languished under them.
However, when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government took office in 2020, it redesigned the project into two phases to fit the LOC – first from Ogle to Haags Bosch road in Eccles, which is about 48-50 per cent of the project, and then from Eccles to Diamond – in order to fit the US$50 million LOC.
The Guyana Government will be undertaking another phase by extending the road from Diamond all the way to Timehri.
Meanwhile, this bypass road project falls in line with the Dr Irfaan Ali-led PPP/C Government’s “comprehensive highway development plan.”
This plan includes the alternative four-lane highway from Mandela Avenue to Eccles, which was completed in April to the tune of $2.3 billion.
That road is now being extended from Eccles to Great Diamond. Upon completion, the new road will be linked to the Mandela to Eccles four-lane highway and is expected to further reduce traffic congestion along the East Bank Demerara corridor.
Contracts to the tune of $13.3 billion were awarded to 12 contractors last December to construct the extended four-lane road. It has been reported the road will be further extended to Craig, EBD, in order to alleviate the bottlenecks between Diamond and Grove on the East Bank.
In addition to this, Minister Edghill on Sunday disclosed that Government will also be upgrading and expanding the two-lane road from Grove (at the entrance to Diamond Housing Scheme) to all the way to Timehri before the end of this year.
“We are going to be doing a major upgrade from Diamond to Timehri in 2022. You know what that mean, you imagine a road being upgraded between Diamond and Timehri – we’re talking about strictly night work. Even in a slack time, between Diamond and Craig and Hope, the traffic is so enormous. We have to start doing things differently… that things cannot remain the same,” the Public Works Minister contended.
Some $2.1 billion was set aside in Budget 2022 for the widening and paving of the East Bank highway from Grove to Timehri.