…cease work order issued to contractor for mining laterite – PS
As works continue on the Linden to Mabura Hill road, which will eventually reach all the way to Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) over two kilometres of asphaltic road have been completed and preparations are ongoing for another 5 kilometres.
This was revealed during Monday’s session of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), by the Public Works Ministry Permanent Secretary Vladim Persaud, who also revealed that preparations are being made to work on another 5 kilometres.
“The Linden to Mabura road is currently under construction. We’ve completed just over two kilometres of asphaltic and a next five kilometres are currently being prepared in terms of the sub-base, along with the original design for the inclusion frames,” Persaud explained.
Questions were meanwhile raised over how the contractor, Brazilian firm Alya Constructora, was sourcing construction material. PAC member Ganesh Mahipaul said that the community of Malali has expressed concern over the contractor mining laterite from their land and he asked if they were being compensated.
It was then that the Permanent Secretary revealed that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission had issued a cease order on mining of the laterite, which led to Mahipaul asking the Permanent Secretary to lay over the contract with the Brazilian firm, as well as the compensation that was agreed between the company and the village.
“This is an ongoing development. As you rightly stated, in the contract the company would have been granted approval to purchase materials. And as such, any agreement between Malali and the Toshao and Alya would be a private arrangement between the company and the village,” the Permanent Secretary said.
“I’m advised that the Geology and Mines Commission has ordered a cease and desist in terms of the mining. And that has been brought to our attention and we’re currently, in consultation with the supervisory consultant and project management team, are currently reviewing that information,” Persaud added.
The community of Malali is located approximately 50 miles from Linden and is populated by just over 230 Amerindians of the Arawak tribe. The village’s main economic activities include logging and subsistence farming.
Traversing sections of the Linden to Lethem Road has been a nightmare for heavily laden lorries over the past few years, with many toppling off the roadway. The bridges are even worse. Some vehicle operators would have to align the boards before attempting to cross. They do not always make it over safely.
The US$190 million contract for the road was signed in May 2022 with Brazilian company Construtora Queiroz Galvao SA for the construction of the 121-kilometre road. The project is being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) via a US$112 million loan, a grant to the tune of £50 million (US$66 million) from the United Kingdom under the Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (CIPF), and an input of US$12 million from the Guyana Government.
This is the largest grant Guyana has ever received from the Government of the UK.
With a 7.2-meter-wide carriageway, the Linden-to-Mabura road is expected to feature a cycle and pedestrian lane measuring 2 metres wide, along with 10 bus stops outfitted with ramps for persons with disabilities.
Additionally, a number of bridges and culverts along the way will be replaced, and some 123 lights would be installed. In its commitment to this project, the Dr Irfaan Ali-led Administration had set aside some $3.19 billion in the 2022 budget for the construction of 32 bridges between Kurupukari and Lethem along the Linden-to-Lethem trail. This leg of the project is expected to last for three year.