In a presentation to the Media on March 20, former Parliamentarian Stanley Ming stated in his overview of options and opportunities for National Development that the Lethem/Linden Road was essential for the development of Guyana, a goal which fulfills the development plan for the integration of regional infrastructures for South America.
There can be no doubt that a Lethem/Linden/Georgetown Highway (LLGH) will enhance Guyana’s economic development, but because it will be unfeasibly expensive and investors and commercial lenders would balk at risking their money on this sort of infrastructure development, it is unlikely to become a reality any time soon. Therefore, Mr. Ming is of the opinion that if LLGH is integrated with a transshipment port on Guyana’s coast for Brazil’s rapidly developing manufacturing City of Manaus on the Amazon River, Brazil would be interested in constructing the highway as it did for the Takutu River Bridge.
To satisfy this objective, LLGH will have to be part of a larger integrated project involving port facilities with a navigable channel to the Ocean for which Mr. Ming’s proposals were short on specifics.
Firstly, the project has to comprise of a highway extending from Lethem to a new port constructed on Guyana’s Atlantic coast/river bank and probably passing through Linden (a political imperative) since Georgetown does not have the facilities and a suitable location to handle the projected volume of cargo and containers. Many heavy duty bridges will have to be built across the various streams along the highway as these will be necessary to accommodate tractor-trailers carrying fully loaded 40-ft containers and other heavy equipment.
Secondly, a deep-water port with container-handling hoists, storage sheds and a large paved area for containers have to be built to handle the large volumes of cargo (imports and exports) for Brazil and locally. Thirdly, a navigable waterway has to be dredged from the Port to the Ocean and regularly maintained to accommodate large container ships.
Guyana does not have the finances for these works nor will it be able to obtain them from the World’s Capital Markets because of the high risks involved or from Brazil whose economy is sputtering, leaving it no room for debt financing of any large overseas project. This might have been possible some years ago when Brazil’s Central Bank was flush with healthy reserves and the country was looking for worthwhile investment opportunities.
Finally, Mr. Ming claims that Brazil is willing to invest in hydropower development in Guyana to provide electricity for both countries. It is rather puzzling as to why the PPP Government has not pursued this inkling as it struggles without success to get finance from any source for the Amaila Falls Project (AFP) and Prime Minister Hinds is deeply concerned that delay in completing the AFP is stunting Guyana’s development.
If indeed the Manaus-Georgetown transshipment project does materialize it is likely to take tractor-trailers about 2-3 days to make the journey instead of one day as stated by Mr. Ming as there has to be rest periods for the drivers and lost time for customs inspection along the way.
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