The Ministry of Public Infrastructure has made it clear that a Chinese contractor working on the East Coast Demerara road expansion was given the blessings of the local producers to import stone.
“Interestingly, it was agreed by all, based on a recommendation by the stone producers to allow the contractor to import 50,000 tons of stone over a three-month period, this would have allowed the local producers to up their production (if possible) and seek to have their stone meet the required specifications (if possible), it would also allow the contractor to continue working without delay,” Minister David Patterson explained in a government release.
A report over the weekend in the Guyana Chronicle had contended that at least two producers are unhappy with the permission to import.
However, according to Patterson: “It must be noted that while there are seven stone producers countrywide, only three had the capability at that time to produce the specified stone, of the three, the largest producer’s stone did not make the specifications (stone specifications do not only have to do with density but also size, moisture content, etc.).”
China Railway First Group was awarded the contract for some US$42.7M.
Given the nature of funding for the project, the minister said, it is essential that delays and cost overruns be avoided. He said that the decision to allow the import of stone by the Chinese contractor was given due to the fact that adequate supplies were not available locally.
“To finish on schedule, the project required at least 15,000 tonnes per month, at best the suppliers whose product made the specifications were only supplying about 6,000 tonnes monthly, additionally the project needs about 250,000 tonnes overall,” Minister Patterson explained.
He assured that local stone producers were engaged prior to his permission being granted to the contractor for the stone import.
Currently, contractors are on schedule to complete the expansion project, the government release said.
In an earlier interview, Technical Services Manager at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Nigel Erskine informed the Department of Public Information (DPI) that the extension of the four-lane section from Better Hope to Annandale is now 60 percent complete.
He also said the plan is to complete the four-lane section by the end of the year and proceed with the upgrade of the two lanes from Annandale to Bellfield subsequently.
“Ongoing works include the extension of the bridges, construction of drains which is about 90 percent complete; the construction of 400 metres of revetments at Triumph of which 250 metres have been completed, as well as the extension of the culverts to accommodate the four-lane road,” Erskine explained.
When completed, the four-lane section will have a median in the centre equipped with streetlights. Sidewalks will be built along populated villages, seven bridges and 12 culverts will be widened, and 11 traffic signals will be installed at busy intersections along the roadway. The approximately eight-inch finished surface will comprise asphaltic concrete and have road safety features including warning signs, road markings and pedestrian crossings.
The two component project features a four-lane expansion of the road from Better Hope to Annandale, while the other is an upgrade to the existing two-lane road from Annandale to Belfield.
In 2016, the government and the People’s Republic of China signed a US$45.5M concessional loan for the completion of the widening of the road between Better Hope and Belfield.
Guyana has contributed $2.7B towards the project.
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