Government had signaled intentions to start construction of a new bridge across the Demerara River next year, but there are no monies allocated to move the process along.
Yesterday, during considerations of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s current and capital estimates for 2018, Minister within the Ministry, Annette Ferguson, disclosed that no provisions have been made.
Under intense questioning from the Opposition, both Ferguson and Minister David Patterson offered little information about what happens to the project, a critical one for Guyana, in the new year.
However, the process to construct a new bridge is moving along despite that.
Last month, during the pre-qualification stage to choose a group or company that will design, finance and build the new bridge, 11 tenders came in – seven of them involving Chinese firms.
Government is hoping to shortlist three of the tenders, from which one group or company will be awarded the contract.
A feasibility study by Dutch engineers, LievenseCSO, was released publicly in August.
The 57-page final report recommended that the proposed location of Houston-Versailles was the most ideal – with a three-lane structure and moveable part to allow for ships to pass through.
It was the best model, at the least cost, the consultant recommended.
A number of homes will have to be removed at Houston, East Bank Demerara, with talks already started with residents.
Consecutive administrations have made the construction of a new bridge across the Demerara River a priority. This was following an explosion of growth on both sides of the river.
The current structure which links the city to Essequibo, is almost four decades old, and although in relatively good condition, has been racking up significant costs for Government.
The cost of maintenance alone has outstripped revenues.
Daily there have been congestions as the bridge is unable to efficiently take off the 10,000 vehicles daily that crisscross it on average.
Engineers had been toying with a number of locations including one at Hope, further along East Bank Demerara.
The Houston/Meadow Bank/Ruimveldt areas have been seeing an explosion of growth in recent years. Several companies, including National Hardware, have been expanding. At Houston, Gafoors had brought its headquarters there, leading the charge forward in bringing shopping out of central Georgetown.
Muneshwers, which had its main operations in Water Street, also took the plunge in recent months, commissioning a new port next door to Gafoors.
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