THE BRIDGE HAS OUTLIVED ITS ORIGINAL LIFESPAN
The government is spending over four billion dollars to expand the East Bank Public Road between Providence and Diamond. The money is being borrowed from the Inter American Development Bank and therefore has to be repaid.
The IDB is keen to lend the money. The future of the local office depends on its loan portfolio. If there are insufficient projects or if the bank is unable to lend to Guyana, then it means that there is going to be downsizing. This is always a consideration when dealing with foreign-funded projects. While international organizations do address concerns about projects, they also have a vested interest in approving loans because without this lending, their organization would not be as finically strong.
The IDB no doubt feels that extending the East Bank Public Road between Providence and Diamond is a worthwhile undertaking. They have predicted increased flows of traffic and therefore see the viability of the road. A few years ago, it was suggested that they had questions about the feasibility of a bridge across the Berbice River.
It is, however, still not too late for the IDB to reconsider the technical aspects of the extension of the four-lane highway. Firstly, there are sections of the proposed roadway which will require filling in trenches in order to extend the road. This will be costly and require the filled – in areas to be settled so as to avoid soil movement after the road would have been constructed.
Within a few years, that four-lane highway is going to become inadequate for the growth of traffic. One only has to look as near as some of our neighboring countries to appreciate how the growth of road traffic poses major challenges for public infrastructure.
A far better alternative would have been to build an alternative roadway; something that would still have to be done within the next few years. There is land available aback of the villages on the East Bank for this roadway. There is already a very good dam running behind most of the villages which can be converted to a proper alternative road to bring traffic into Georgetown.
Within the next few months, the landfill site behind Eccles is going to be opened and a great deal of the garbage from Georgetown and surrounding environs is going to be trucked to that facility. An alternative roadway by-passing the East Bank Public Road would be good for the many refuse vehicles that would be required to transport the waste. The dam can be developed into a two lane roadway that can link Diamond with Georgetown , exiting where the Sanata Textile Mills used to be. This is a far more feasible long- term plan that the proposed road.
In order to extend the four lane highway , a great many roads within the villages along the East Bank will have to be upgraded in order to cater for the traffic problems that will develop during the construction stages.
On the other hand, if an alternative roadway was being built, all these disruptions and upgrading could have been avoided. The new road could have been constructed without any disruptions to traffic.
Within two years of the extension of the East Bank Public Road, another alternative road would still have to constructed, since an additional 38,000 persons are expected within the next year to take up residence between Eccles and Herstelling and perhaps another few more thousand in the massive schemes at Diamond and Grove. All of these developments seem to point to the need for another roadway between Georgetown and Crane.
At this stage with both the government and the IDB seemingly keen on moving ahead with this road extension project, and therefore not likely to reconsider it at this stage, the most that can be expected is that immediately following the commencement of works, that negotiations would begin on an alternative road.
It is necessary. It will be needed in a few years time and therefore the planning should begin now. The negotiations and planning should also begin on the construction of a new bridge across the Demerara River. The present bridge has outlived its original lifespan and is being maintained. But in a few years time, the cost of continuing to maintain this bridge is going to be prohibitive and therefore a new bridge, like the alternative road, will be needed.