ECD road upgrade to continue with US$192 million loan from Chinese Government

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Phase II of the East Coast Demerara road project is set to commence following a loan to the tune of US$192 million from the Chinese Government.

The Framework Concessional Loan Agreement was signed on Friday between Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and China’s Ambassador to Guyana Guo Haiyan.

The signing was witnessed by Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill and other officials of the Ministry of Finance and the Chinese Embassy.

Phase II of the project will include the extension of the Railway Embankment Road into four lanes from Sheriff Street to Orange Nassau; the extension of the main East Coast Roadway from Orange Nassau to Mahaica as well as rehabilitation of the existing East Coast Demerara road from Belfield to Orange Nassau which will allow for additional lanes.

A section of the new four-lane East Coast Road

A press release from the Finance Ministry noted that this Phase will also see the construction of 48 bridges and 22 culverts and another bridge across the Hope Canal. The loan for the project is being provided by the Exim Bank of China.

Phase I of the project was done during the previous term of the People’s Progressive Party /Civic Government (PPP/C) and included the extension of the East Coast main road.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Chinese Ambassador recalled that Guyana and China had recently celebrated 50 years of good relations, cooperation, mutual respect, support, and benefit.

According to the Finance Ministry, the Ambassador noted that China cherishes the friendship and cooperation with Guyana.

She added that China is willing to strengthen this cooperation and the road-building project forms part of its global development initiative.

“We believe that the project borne through cooperation of the two countries will bring more benefit for people. The current financial situation is so volatile and poses a great challenge to developing countries and the concessional loan demonstrates China’s commitment to common development and gives an indication of China’s confidence in Guyana’s development and in the two countries’ bilateral cooperation,” the Ambassador was quoted as saying in the press release.

Minister Edghill, in brief remarks, noted that the project is a major intervention in the road network along the East Coast corridor and will create greater accessibility.

He made reference to the major investments the Ali-led Administration is making and the possibilities of what could develop at Enmore in terms of industrialization and job creation for people on the East Coast corridor.

“The already congested new four-lane needs to be supported by additional carriageways. It was the PPP/C while in office in the 2011 period that started that East Coast expansion and widening and here we are today,” Minister Edghill was quoted as saying.

Prior to the signing of the agreement, the Finance Minister expounded on the ease of traffic congestion and decrease in commute time which the road project completion will allow for and the ramping up of economic activity and development.

According to the release, Dr. Singh also highlighted the increase in vehicular traffic due to more persons being able to own a house and vehicle.

He also alluded to the increase in the number of trucks and other large vehicles carrying goods and materials and noted that this is a reflection of the construction and development boom.

“This is something that we welcome…in response to it, we take very seriously the obligation to expand our road network to ease this pressure and so as soon as President Ali came into office, Government set about an aggressive campaign to immediately transform our transport network. We have seen already parallel bypass roads constructed on the East Bank. Today you can drive from Sheriff Street to Diamond without ever touching the traditional East Bank road as we know….,” Dr. Singh emphasised, according to the release.

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