Korean firm pitches 7-year plan for developing Silica City

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An aerial view of the Silica City site (MOHW-CH&PA photo)

South Korean company Yeachon Architect and Urban Planners, whose representatives are in Guyana along with US-based companies exploring opportunities for partnership and investment, on Wednesday presented what their seven-year plan would be for Silica City.

The presentation on Silica city was made before President Dr. Irfaan Ali, at the Arthur Chung Conference Center (ACCC). The President was accompanied by several cabinet members, including Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, Prime Minister, Brigadier (retired) Mark Phillips, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and Public Works Minister Juan Edghill.

The South Korean company made a video presentation, laying out how they would develop Silica City, which is the brainchild of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and is being built by the Government up the Soesdyke/Linden highway.

According to their proposals, the city will be carbon-free, complete with housing, energy, transportation, healthcare, education and recreational facilities. Mention was made of smart farms, a hypermarket, and a commercial center. They are proposing that the city could be completed by 2030.

Other Korean and US companies meanwhile made video presentations; on what value they could provide. President Ali stressed during the proceedings that the local private sector should take up the opportunity for partnership, especially in areas such as agriculture.

“These guys are here, the private sector, the leaders of these organizations. They are ready, they have the finances… this can be done on a massive scale,” President Ali informed the members of the private sector that were present.

“The next 10 years is to build a foundation for a Guyana that…is way ahead of our time, that is futuristic, that is 2030 and beyond…This is about positioning Guyana, 2030 and beyond, and the Private Sector has to be part of (it),” the President added.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh expressed hope that the companies will set up shop locally. He also echoed similar sentiments to the President, noting the important opportunity that the presence of the companies represents in Guyana. And according to Singh, with Guyana in the middle of a growth surge, the time is right for them to invest.

“Underlining that growth is an incredibly exciting impact and an unprecedented story about strong growth in the oil and gas sector but in addition very strong growth in the non-oil economy. This is not by accident. This, in fact, is the direct result of a deliberate policy position taken by a government to ensure that we set the foundation for…sustainable economic growth into the long term.”

“So exciting opportunities abound in literally every productive sector of the economy whether it is agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, social services including things like healthcare, education, across the entire spectrum,” the finance minister said.

Silica City has generated much interest. It was only in September that another group, Dar Consultants, made a presentation on the city. The master plan was presented by their team at State House.

During the presentation, they explained what the Innovation Village concept within Silica City will accomplish. For one, it will connect start-ups and business incubators to established companies, maximizing their opportunities.

“According to the group, the Innovation Village will be a geographic area, located within Silica City, where digital and innovative leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, business incubators, and accelerators.”

“It will be physically compact, transit-accessible, technically-wired and will offer a mixed use of housing, office and retail spaces,” a statement from the Office of the President had explained.

The first phase of development of Silica city, within the vicinity of Kuru Kururu along the Soesdyke/Linden Highway, will feature 400 young professional homes, as well as a number of commercial and industrial developments and hospitals. While these plans are in motion, land acquisition for phase two is also in progress through collaborative efforts with the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC).

The establishment of Silica City was proposed in 2013 by Dr Irfaan Ali during his tenure as Minister of Housing and Water. It is in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the New Urban Agenda, the Housing Act 36:20, and other guidelines.

In his first year in office in 2020, President Ali had revealed that Government had begun discussions on Silica City as a secondary city. He had explained that the Government was looking at an area on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway that would be connected to the new four-lane bypass road.

It had previously been explained that the city will initially cater to just over 3000 households in the first five years and eventually grow to house more than 12,500 households.