May 05, 2017 News
The highest decision making body of the Government is finally in receipt of the design and feasibility study for a new Demerara River Crossing.
This was confirmed yesterday by Minister, Joseph Harmon. He explained at a press conference held at the Ministry of the Presidency that Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson, has already been advised to highlight the key aspects of the study that would require immediate attention.
These, Harmon said, would be discussed at the upcoming Conference of Ministers later this month.
At a consultation exercise in April, seven possible locations were highlighted for the erection of the much needed structure to link the eastern and western banks of the Demerara River. But, it was the Houston-Versailles link that was deemed most economically viable.
Minister Patterson emphasised that while the proposed location of the bridge is not carved in stone, it seems to be the least problematic, “taking into consideration the environmental impact, land acquisition, and the dislocation of persons.”
The eventual construction of the crossing is expected to result in encumbering properties and homes being affected.
“At some point during the project there will have to be some land acquisition should we proceed with whichever option there is. It’s unfortunate, but it is something that we have to do for the greater good,” Patterson said.
He explained though, that consultations would be held with those persons whose homes or properties would be affected.
The feasibility study, which commenced in January, was executed by Lievense CSO Contracting BV out of the Netherlands.
The document examined three different bridge types including – floating, fixed low level with a retractable span, and a fixed high level bridge.
Should the high bridge be considered, Patterson noted that it will have to be built to somewhere around 47 meters (approx. 154 feet) high since the highest vessel ever recorded entering Guyana waters was estimated to be somewhere around 41 metres.
Several financial models for the new river crossing project are also being looked at.
It was said that “dozens” of contractors have already signalled their intention to construct the bridge. These include companies out of China, Europe, the United States and India.
Short listing of eligible companies is also being contemplated, considering the significant amount of money it costs to compile a bid document for the project. It would cost a contractor an average of US$500,000 to put together a comprehensive proposal.
“And obviously no contractor wants to put that in when you have 10,15 contractors competing.
So we will be shortlisting them based on quality, experience (and) several other things based on the financing module we have,” Patterson outlined.
It was explained that should the procurement process for this project begin this year, construction of the bridge will commence in 2020 and will most likely be completed in 2021, using the Public/Private Partnership (PPP) module.
The decision to construct a new Demerara River Crossing was birthed from a need to alleviate traffic congestion at the existing structure. This also affects vehicular movements on both sides of the Demerara River.
The aging Demerara Harbour Bridge is the main link to the Essequibo Coast from the city.
The structure was commissioned in July 1978 to last for 20 years. However, some 38 years later, the 1.25- mile structure is afloat across the Demerara River.
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