…all major works completed, finishing touches being done
After some delays, the commissioning of the much-anticipated $2.3 billion Eccles-to-Mandela Avenue four-lane highway will be held soon, according to Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal.
He told Inews on Thursday that there was not much more to do for the alternative highway to be ready for commissioning.
“In terms of major works, they have been completed. Any ongoing works will be finishing touches,” Croal stated.
These, the Minister explained, include the placement of the pavement blocks. Already, the lighting fixtures along the road have been installed.
While Croal could not give a definitive timeline for the opening of the new road along the East Bank of Demerara, he reassured the public that “it will be open soon”.
Only last month, Minister Croal had told this publication that there was a delay with the completion of a concrete bridge along the road. At the time, he had said the entire project was about 95 per cent completed.
Works on constructing the $2.3 billion four-lane highway from Eccles, East Bank Demerara (EBD) to Mandela Avenue, Georgetown started in April 2021. Contracts were signed with six contractors, each given a lot, and they were supposed to have been completed by December 2021.
However, inclement weather resulted in the project, which will be important in alleviating traffic build-up on the East Bank, being delayed.
As it relates to the second phase of the project that will see the four-lane road continuing beyond Eccles all the way to Great Diamond, EBD, works are ongoing.
Contracts to the tune of $13.3 billion were awarded to 12 contractors last December and according to Minister Croal, all contractors have already commenced works. He disclosed that land clearance has been completed and the contractors were currently conducting sand-filling along that stretch.
Previously, it was reported that the contractors had encountered a challenge at the lot covering the boundary between the Mocha-Herstelling portion of the road. At that area, there were about 35 buildings.
However, the Ministry has already engaged the property owners for them to be relocated. Last month, the Housing Minister indicated that while most of them had already started to move, there were a few more to be sorted out.
This four-lane road project is a result of efforts by President Dr Irfaan Ali-led Government to ease traffic congestion on the East Bank, which not only leads to the country’s main port of entry – the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) – but also fields traffic coming from West Demerara.
Already, the Housing Ministry has constructed an alternative road from Diamond Housing Scheme to Mocha on the East Bank to divert traffic from the public road. That project was completed to the tune of $5 billion and opened last December in time for the Christmas holidays.
These projects run alongside the India-funded bypass road project which would link the East Bank Demerara corridor to the East Coast of Demerara (ECD), creating a new highway in the backlands.
The Indian Government had provided a US$50 million Line of Credit (LoC) for the road link that was initially slated for Ogle, ECD, to Diamond. Under the previous Government, however, the project was at a standstill for several years.
After taking office in 2020, the People’s Progressive Party Administration has since redesigned the project into three phases to fit the LoC. It will now run from Ogle to Haags Bosch at Eccles in the first phase, then from Eccles to Diamond, and finally from Diamond to Timehri to connect to the CJIA.
However, the Indian LoC will only cover the first section of the road, that is, from Ogle to Eccles.