Guyana could soon see funding for two major infrastructural projects: the Linden- Lethem Road and the new Demerara River Bridge, as the country signs on to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The MoU was signed by Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge and Chinese Ambassador Cui Jianchun at the Chinese Embassy in Guyana, in commemoration of 47 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The accord is expected to enhance cooperation in five main areas, namely: policy coordination, facilities connectivity, trade and investment, financial integration, and people-to-people interaction. Public infrastructure is also expected to be a major focus under this agreement.
Minister Greenidge has posited that signing of the MoU is further demonstration of the two countries’ commitment to further strengthening their ties of friendship and cooperation. He added that Government is looking to explore projects under the agreement that can build on this priority, particularly in the area of infrastructure, which he said is grossly inadequate.
The Foreign Affairs Minister hinted at the possibility of the currently deplorable Linden-Lethem road being financed under this initiative.
“We have been speaking to all bilateral and multilateral partners. During our discussions with the Brazilians, we did discuss and explore the possibility of using funding from the Latin America-China Funds to fund the road. That is something very much on the cards, and something we are working on,” Minister Greenidge indicated.
In July last year, members of a ministerial team from Guyana visited their counterparts in neighbouring Brazil, during which it was agreed that both countries would provide financial resources for the engineering and design of the Linden-Lethem road.
It was reported that the two countries would be working closely with the People’s Republic of China to access a $50 billion China Select Fund to complete this critical piece of infrastructure that holds great potential in terms of integrating the two countries and improving trade between the neighbours and the Caribbean.
Minister Greenidge also noted that another major project that can benefit from this MoU with China is the new Demerara River Bridge, which Government is working on constructing to replace the Demerara Harbour Bridge, which has outlived its 10-year lifespan.
According to the Chinese Ambassador, the signing of the MoU marks a new and promising chapter in the bilateral relationship enjoyed by the two countries, as it will bring mutual benefits and a brighter future to both countries.
He noted that the ancient ‘Silk Road’ embodies the spirit of peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual earning, and mutual benefit; and he said it is his hoped that this will continue to characterise the relations shared.
“The glory of the Silk Road shows that geographical distance is not insurmountable. This new step is out of the initiative proposed by the Chinese President, Xi Jinping. Guyana is the first English-speaking country in South America to sign the document.
The belt and road initiative is a great undertaking, which requires dedicated efforts. Let us pursue this initiative step by step to deliver its achievements one by one. By doing so, we are confident that we will bring tangible benefits to our two peoples and nations,” he said.
Guyana is the first South American country to cooperate with China under its Belt and Road Initiative.
The Belt and Road Initiative was introduced by China’s President Xi Jinping in 2013. The massive trade and infrastructure investment project entails cooperation between China and more than 70 countries.
The Belt seeks to recreate the old silk routes which connected China to the West through Europe and Africa. The road aspect is the strengthening of maritime routes.