As the multi-billion East Coast Demerara Road Widening and Improvement Project progresses, efforts have intensified to complete the widening of the four-lane section from Better Hope to Annandale by August of this year.
Speaking with the Department of Public Information (DPI), the Technical Services Manager at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Nigel Erskine said approximately thirty per cent of the project has been completed.
Within the four-lane section, nearly 80 percent of concrete drains have been constructed, and a significant amount of sub-base work (placement of white sand and loom) has been completed. Work on the aggregate base has started.
“The construction of concrete drains is one of the main activities in the project. The contractor is currently working on two of the constructions of the bridges; they started works on the retaining structures; three of which have been constructed along the roadway”, Erskine explained.
When completed the four-lane section, will have a median in the centre equipped with street lights, sidewalks will be built along populated villages, seven bridges and twelve culverts will be widened and 11 traffic signals will be installed at busy intersections along the roadway.
The approximately 8-inch finished surface will be comprised of asphaltic concrete and have road safety features including warning signs, road markings and pedestrian crossings.
According to Erskine, just three issues could affect the overall completion of the project. He explained, “The first issue is the relocation of vendors who occupy the tarmac area at Mon Repos and Lusignan Markets. The tarmac area would become part of the four-lane section so those vendors have to be relocated. Secondly, the rate of the removal of utilities and a large section of fences and shops beyond the four-lane between Annandale to Belfield.”
In the interim the Public Infrastructure Ministry and the consultant are working on a traffic management plan to divert drivers as the work continues.
While the upgraded four-lane section will be completed by August 2018, the entire project is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
The contract for this project was awarded to China Railway International. The project entails a four-lane extension from Better Hope to Annandale, and two-lane upgrade from Annandale to Belfield with a total length of 16,998 kilometres of roads and 33,996 kilometres of drains to be built.
Apart from the road expansion, the residents are also going to benefit from the project, which included improved drainage since the East Coast is usually susceptible to flooding.
Initially, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government had tried to finance the road expansion project, but the funding was not readily available; hence, the Administration decided to use local funds for preliminary works and use the funds from the Chinese to complete the works.
The preliminary works for the four-lane upgrade were completed at the end of 2014. This included the widening of the roads and installation of drainage facilities. The project was divided into seven lots which were awarded to different contractors.
With the China Eximbank putting up most of the finances for the road expansion, Guyana had awarded the contract to China Railway First Group for some US$42.7 million. The Chinese construction company reportedly put in the lowest bid of US$46.994 million. The PPP/C Administration had stated that it was saving some $2.8 billion by giving the contract to China Railway First Group.
In 2016, the incumbent Government and the People’s Republic of China signed a US$45.5M concessional loan for the completion of the widening of the road between Better Hope and Belfield.
According to the DPI Guyana has contributed $2.7B towards the project.