The East Coast Demerara road expansion and improvement project from Better Hope to Belfield was finally commissioned Thursday at Montrose.
The estimated cost of the project was US$50M; upon completion the total cost of the project was US$43M, the remaining $6.5M will be used to further upgrade the road from Belfield to Mahaica.
The contract for the road expansion was signed in December 2014 under the previous administration but was stalled for some time. Construction re-commenced in 2017 and was completed on December 31 last year by the contracting firm, China Railway First Group.
Jeffrey Vaughn, Chief Works Officer at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, said the construction of the road took approximately 2 years and four months.
“This project seeks to improve the mobility and accessibility of the population via this extension which links the capital city, Georgetown, to numerous highly populated villages along the East Coast of Demerara,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn said the project initially began in March 2012, when the government received a grant of US$688, 950 from the Kuwait government for the feasibility study of the road. This study was completed in August 2013.
In March 2014, preliminary works began on the drainage and widening of the road to the tune of GY$6B.
After this the government then engaged the Exim Bank of China for a loan for the full execution of the works.
“The government of Guyana signed a framework agreement with the China Exim Bank for the execution of the works for this project on November 23, 2016 and the full loan agreement was signed on January 9, 2017,” Vaughn said.
The construction work included overlay and partial reconstruction of the pavement and widening of the four lanes from Better Hope to Annandale and upgrade works from Annandale to Belfield.
“We will be reintroducing public transportation to subsidize fares for the elderly, disabled and school children,” he said.
Seven bridges were also widened and three bridges were replaced during the project at Golden Grove, Buxton and Montrose. There was also construction of concrete revetments, concrete drains, median, culverts and shoulder curbs.
Over 200 street lights were installed along with traffic signs and road markings.
It was noted that the project is currently in the defect liability period, which means that the contractors will monitor and repair any defects on the road for a one year period.
Challenges during construction included poor project management, financial and resource management and managing dust pollution. This also contributed to the delay with the scheduled completion of the project in September last year.
Meanwhile, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson during remarks promised to expand and improve the infrastructure in the country within the next three years.
“In the next three years, we will build a new bridge over the Demerara River, complete this exact road that we started here all the way to Rosignol, we will upgrade the embankment road all the way to Mahaica; we will build a second entrance to Diamond Housing Scheme,” Patterson stated.
He also highlighted plans for a new East Coast/East Bank bypass road and that the Sheriff/Mandela road will also be completed. Patterson said within the next three years there will be street lights in every street in the country.
Also attending the ceremony on Thursday was Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan and representatives from the Chinese embassy in Guyana.