“Shipping problems” threaten February 14 completion of Sheriff-Mandela Road project

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The Sheriff/Mandela Road project is substantially completed

With government hoping that the Sheriff Street-Mandela Road Avenue Project will be fully completed by February 14, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill has disclosed that the contractors are experiencing “shipping problems” that could potentially delay the project.

During a press conference today, Edghill noted that most of the works on the project are completed including the installation of traffic lights.

“The entire highway is now completed. The guard rails had started and is now completed. We have to put in place the completion of the road markings which is on ongoing, the putting in of the traffic signs and installation of the traffic lights,” the Minister explained.

However, he noted that there are some difficulties in the shipping of the traffic lights.

“This morning, I had a meeting with the contractor because the traffic lights are experiencing shipping problems and we are trying to move every mountain to make sure we get it here. Because we had indicated by February 14 (for completion). We want to get this highway with all of its components completed and we’re still working towards that,” the Minister assured.

The contract sum for the project was US$31 million but due to a number of factors, the government will end up paying more. However, the Public Works Minister previously could not definitively say what the additional cost would be. At the time, he, nevertheless, assured that the country and its people will get their money’s worth.

“We will need some extra money…that is a conversation that is being undertaken…at the highest level…” he said.

The road upgrade project is being funded through a US$66 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Work on the Sheriff Street-Mandela Avenue project began in August 2018 by Chinese company Sinohydro Corporation Limited.

However, there was a period in 2019 when the IDB had halted funding for the project owing to health and safety violations by the contractor. The matter was further compounded by the 2020 election impasse, but following the return to office of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, the IDB was re-engaged.

The Sheriff Street-Mandela Avenue roadway is considered the only direct link between the heavily populated East Coast Demerara and East Bank Demerara.