Guyana discusses Silica City, Corentyne River bridge with Mexican investors

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President Irfaan Ali led a Government delegation to meet with Mexican investors on Saturday (OP Photo)

– visiting team pitches housing, oil refinery, airport enhancement projects 

President Dr Irfaan Ali on Saturday led high-level talks with a team of Mexican investors and their Guyanese partner during which several major projects of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration were discussed.

The Head of State highlighted the need for investment opportunities in his flagship project – Silica City, and also spoke about the building of the Corentyne River bridge, according to a missive from the Office of the President’s Press and Publicity Unit.

The visiting team included the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Grupo Industrial Omega, Andres Holzer; CEO of Grupo TCO, Federico Martinez; CEO of Cometa, Javier Vazquez, and local partner CEO of Star 10, Dean Hassan.

Saturday’s meeting, which involved several Ministers of Government and other key Government officials, also saw pitches by the investors in areas such as housing, road and hospital construction and oil and gas.

Further, the investors made presentations on large-scale housing projects and small prefab hospitals.

After pitching their uniquely designed, cost-affordable and modern concrete houses, President Ali put the investors on to his team from the Ministry of Housing, including the Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues, and CEO of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA), Sherwyn Greaves, for further discussions and a guided tour of communities currently being developed.

Meanwhile, the investors, led by CEO of Grupo Industrial Omega, Andres Holzer, also highlighted several other areas of interest, including an oil refinery and a new terminal at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). He said that the group of investors also have the resources to pave the road from Lethem and Linden to enhance travel and investments between Guyana and Brazil.

Government has already received partial funding for the Linden to Mabura Hill portion of the road network and is pushing to have the contract signed before the end of the year.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has injected US$112 million via a loan towards the project while the United Kingdom has provided a US$66 million grant and the Guyana Government will put US$12 million for the upgrading of the 121-kilometre road to an all-weather asphalt road.

However, the Government is still looking for funding for the other component of the road from Mabura Hill to Lethem.

The team of Mexican investor with their Guyanese partner (OP Photo)

 

During Saturday’s meeting with the Mexican investors, President Ali listened to all their ideas, discussed their possibilities and then spoke about his Government’s plan to develop Guyana’s secondary city – Silica City.

Only Friday evening at the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association’s (GMSA) Annual Awards Ceremony, the Head of State disclosed that Government has been getting overwhelming interests from potential investors for Silica City, which is pegged for the Linden-Soesdyke Highway.

“We are oversubscribed with investors who want to come in and build Silica City,” the Guyanese leader revealed.

Nevertheless, the Head of State also asked the Mexican investors during Saturday’s meeting about their potential to build the Corentyne River bridge, which will link Guyana and Suriname by road. He reminded them that the planned bridge will use the design, finance, build and own model.

The Governments of Guyana and Suriname are collaborating to execute the project and have shortlisted eight international companies to vie for the contract. Only last month, representatives from these firms conducted a site visit ahead of the December 21 deadline for submission of project proposals.

The eight shortlisted consultancy firms, including three joint ventures are: WSP Caribbean Limited; EXP Services Inc in association with Pedelta, Arcadia, CEMCO; TYPSA, Leonhardt, Andrä und Partner GmbH and Firm Engineering NV; and Politecnica and Rina JV and sub-consultants ILACO and SRKN’gineering & Associates.

The Governments of Guyana and Suriname have jointly agreed to realise the construction of the Corentyne River bridge using the Public-Private Partnership method of procurement with a DBFOM (Design – Build – Finance – Operate – Maintain) model contract.

The construction of a bridge linking Guyana and Suriname is a priority project for the governments of both countries. It will not only link the two neighbouring countries, but also open up access to greater economic opportunities beyond them into French Guiana, and through the road network being developed into Brazil, and eventually further into South America.

Reports indicate that the Corentyne River bridge is expected to be a flat bridge from Guyana to Long Island in the Corentyne River and then a high-span bridge from there to the Surinamese mainland to allow for heavy marine traffic. This bridge is expected to promote the safe movement of people and products.

Additionally, it is anticipated that Long Island will become an economic hub and free zone that will also see major infrastructural development such as hotels, recreational parks, entertainment spots, tourist attractions, malls, and farmers’ markets.

Meanwhile, President Ali used the opportunity during Saturday’s meeting to express to the Mexican investors his desire to see Guyanese products sold in duty-free shops in airports worldwide. Discussions will continue in this regard between Holzer and Ramesh Ghir, CEO of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation.

The Mexican businessman manages duty-free stores in 64 countries across the globe.
The meeting which took place at the Office of the President was also attended by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh; Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony; Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha; Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd; Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat and Minister Rodrigues.