US$30.9M sea, river defence project launched


* stakeholders to be trained in project management


A sea and river defence resilience project workshop, a collaborative effort between the Government and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDC) was launched, yesterday, at the Pegasus hotel in Kingston, Georgetown.

The objectives of the workshop includes the familiarisation with CDB and Guyana Government representatives and other stakeholders, understanding the key characteristics of the project, the role of all parties, the legal obligation, CDB policies, procedures and reporting requirements and the management requirements.

The project will see US$30.9M spent to reconstruct and improve approximately 5.4kilometres (km) of sea and river defences in eight critical locations in Regions 2, 3, 4, and 6, that will benefit thousands of Guyanese. The CDB has committed to providing US$25M, whilst government will invest US$5.9M.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson delivering remarks at the launching of the sea and river defence resilience project
Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson delivering remarks at the launching of the sea and river defence resilience project

Delivering remarks at the launch, Minister of Public Infrastructure Mr David Patterson indicated that on assuming office it was realised how increasingly difficult it had become for Guyana to secure soft and concessional loans for the purpose of executing hard infrastructural projects.

Nevertheless, the implementation the 5.4 km of critical sea and river defence only accounts for 2% of the country’s foreshores.  Patterson reasoned if one were to look at the amount being spent and the percentage it covers, this would speak volumes of the importance of this project, but moreso the size of investment needed to execute work in this sector.

“The sea and river defence forms part of an integrated system that plays a vital role in the protection of people, assets, livelihoods and the environment in the coastal belt and contributes to the sustainable economic growth and future socio economic development of the country,” Patterson stated.

He added that recognition of the need to have a comprehensive approach to managing the diverse and interrelated aspects of flood protection in the coastal zone, the sea and river defence sector policy was developed and updated in 2015. This will better reflect an integrated approach towards delivering sustainable sea and river defence structures along the coastal zone.

William Ashby, Portfolio Manager, Caribbean Development Bank, delivering remarks to participants of the sea and river defence workshop
William Ashby, CDB’s Portfolio Manager, delivering remarks to participants of the sea and river defence workshop

“This improved integration of the many overlapping multi-sectoral function and aspects of coastal zone management will aid effective flood risk planning and implementation of strategic actions while fostering better harmonisation with other relevant national initiatives,” Minister Patterson explained.

Dr. Hector Butts, Finance Secretary, Ministry of Finance charged the Works Services Group (WSG) with the implementation of the project. The effective utilisation of project sums will not see added interest being charged if monies are spent in a timely, but accountable manner, he stated.

“The loan is intended to provide flood protection infrastructure, institutional strengthening which is capacity building, community awareness and education, engineering services, monitoring and evaluation and especially project management…in its scope, it addresses Guyana’s need of a friendly ecosystem for facilitating sustainable development,” Butts outlined.

William Ashby, Portfolio Manager of CDB said the outcome of the project will be the enhanced resilience to coastal and riverine hazards and the effects of climate change through strengthened sea and river defence systems.

Government has identified protection of people and productive land through climate change adaptation measures as a priority. The coastal protection strategy has long included efforts to manage the natural sea defences as well as extend, upgrade and maintain the system of sea and river defence infrastructure.

“The importance of mitigation, the impact of flooding on the economy has also been highlighted and improved risk management capabilities identified as essential for the achievement of the country’s development objective,” Ashby explained

Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, during the budget presentation earlier this year, had informed the House that the administration had successfully negotiated $6B financing to improve sea and river defence structures countrywide.

At the end of the workshop it is expected that engineers from the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, particularly those from the WSG will have an understanding of what is required of them. (GINA)


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