In a matter of weeks, works on the highly anticipated four-lane bypass road that will link the East Coast of Demerara corridor at Ogle directly to the East Bank Demerara corridor at Eccles will commence.
This was revealed on Friday at the contract signing between the Public Works Ministry and India-based Ashoka Buildcon Limited. The US$106 million contract will see the construction of some 7.8 kilometres of road with each of the four lanes being 3.6 metre wide. The Highway will also feature a median in the middle and sidewalks as well as several connector roads especially at the East Bank end to allow for further diversion of traffic.
Works are slated to commence August month-end after the rainy season and according to Director of Ashoka, Ashish Kataria, he is fully confident of his company delivering the project within the 24-month timeline stipulated in the contract.
Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill, posited that Guyana’s development cannot be delayed any further.
“We have to get things moving,” he declared at the event on Friday, recalling the fact that the project was left languish for nearly five years under the previous administration despite the funding being available.
To this end, Edghill outlined the importance of this project not only in addressing the traffic woes on the country’s roadways but also connecting two of Guyana’s main thoroughfares and ports of entry.
“This artery that will be constructed here, the intent is that this must be able to get all the way; linking the Ogle International Airport with the Timehri [Cheddi Jagan] International Airport,” he posited.
The ECD-EBD road link project is being undertaken in several phases with the first being from Ogle to Haags Bosch, Eccles; then onto Diamond and finally, to Timehri, connecting to the CJIA.
According to the Public Works Minister, this project will open up vast new lands that will bring a host of business opportunities including in the agriculture and oil and gas industries as well as space for more housing development.
“You cannot transform and modernize a country without putting in, road infrastructure. And once road infrastructure is put in, it opens up the way for so many other things to happen,” he noted.
Nevertheless, Minister Edghill went onto charge the Indian contractor to “make its mark” in Guyana by adhering to the 24-months timeline.
Highest standards expected
Similar sentiments were also echoed by Senior Minister with Responsibility for Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh.
“I believe this is your first project in Guyana; welcome…We expect that you will execute this project in line with the highest of standards and in line with the specifications defined in the contract and we expect you will do so in a timely manner,” Dr Singh posited.
The finance minister further highlighted the opportunities available here that the company can tap into if succeeds in delivering the bypass road project with high quality and on time.
“There is a lot of business to be done in Guyana… and I expect that this will not be the last project that we will do in partnership with the Government of India and its EXIM Bank. To make yourself eligible for the pipeline of work that is yet to come, the best recommendation would be successful and timely execution of this project,” Dr Singh stressed.
Meanwhile, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr K.J. Srinivasa, relayed his government’s continued commitment to assisting Guyana on its development trajectory. This, he outlined, is evident in the multifaceted developmental cooperation between India and Guyana in areas such as infrastructure, education, healthcare, energy, oil and gas and capacity building.
“For India, the most fundamental principle in cooperation is respecting our developmental partners and be guided by their priorities,” the diplomat asserted.
Following Friday’s contract signing, a sod-turning ceremony was held at the Ogle end of the four-lane alignment, and among those witnessing it were Minister within the Public Works Ministry Deodat Indar and Minister within the Housing and Water Ministry Susan Rodrigues as well as former President Donald Ramotar, under whose leadership a US$50 million concessional Line of Credit was obtained from the Indian EXIM Bank for the bypass road project since 2015.
While contract for the construction of the 7.8 km road was signed on Friday, the Public Works Ministry is expected to sign another US$3.2 million contract for supervisory services to be provided by Rites Limited out of India next week.
RITES Limited, an engineering consultancy company, had conducted a 10-month design consultancy, which produced a Detailed Project Report (DPR) outlining the draft final design of the bypass road and recommended a four-lane highway as most feasible.
Back in 2015, the Indian Government had provided the US$50 million credit line 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 the extension from Diamond all the way to Timehri.
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.