May 16, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The Government will be utilising funds that were saved from the East Coast Demerara (ECD) Road Expansion Project to build 24 new connector roads along the project area. The Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, while speaking with Kaieteur News yesterday, confirmed this.
This publication learnt that these additional works would cost some $1B, which includes around $560M that was saved from the project and another $440M that is being invested by the Government. This has already been catered for in the 2021 National Budget.
In 2017, Guyana obtained US$45.5M for the ECD Road Expansion project through a concessional loan agreement with the China Export-Import (Exim) Bank, which was signed by former Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan and China Exim Bank official, Goa Ning. With the receipt of the funds, the project aimed to expand the highway road between Better Hope and Belfield Village on the ECD and enhance the mobility and accessibility of commuters to and from Georgetown. It was also said that the project would positively impact the accident rate and vehicular maintenance in the area.
When asked how there were funds left back that are now being utilised, Edghill explained that it is not anything unusual. He highlighted that the execution of projects rely on proper management, adding that where there is good management it is possible to save funds, likewise, in many instances, projects costs may overrun the initial allocation.
The loan contract had stipulated that the project was to be carried out by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (now Ministry of Public Works) and the contract for the road expansion was awarded to China Railway First Group Company Limited with works commencing in 2017. It was expected to be completed in September 2019, but the contractor had complained of various factors that led to a delay. These included suppliers not delivering materials on time and the removal/ relocation of certain utilities within the project area.
After those delays, the project was slated for completion yet again in December 2019, but that deadline was also missed. Eventually, it was completed and commissioned in February 2020, however, some claimed that the works was rushed, since some streetlights and traffic signs were not installed.
Nevertheless, it has been disclosed that China Railway will be building the connector roads and they are slated for completion by year-end. The roads which will be built along the south and north side of the main highway aligns with the PPP administration’s plans to improve road accessibility and reduce traffic congestion in Guyana.
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