A new US$35 million Mackenzie/ Wismar Bridge in Region 10 (Upper Demerara- Berbice) will be built by the China Railway Construction Corporation Limited following a contract signing event on Friday.
The contract for the new four-lane, concrete bridge was signed between the government and the Chinese company that is also constructing the new $260 million crossing over the Demerara River to bridge Regions Three and Four.
President Dr. Irfaan Ali attended the historic event and said the project must be completed in two years’ time to support the increased number of vehicular crossings in the mining town of Linden.
For context, he said there were about 768,000 vehicular crossings over the existing bridge in 2020. Last year, that figure almost doubled with crossings increasing to about 1.5 million.
The current bridge was constructed in 1967 by the Demerara Bauxite Company (DEMBA). The structure which connects Mackenzie and Wismar was built so that bauxite ores from nearby mines could be easily taken to a processing plant in Mackenzie.
Since then, it has become a crucial road link. The President, however, said the new bridge is not a “stand-alone” project.
According to him, the new Mackenzie Wismar Bridge will be a crucial link connecting Guyana’s coast and the hinterland. He also said it will position Region 10 as a new hub for engineering, logistics and trading with increased traffic coming from the South, as far as Brazil.
What the bridge will also do, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill explained earlier, is connect the Linden to Lethem trail with Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city and commercial hub.
That trail is also connected to Brazil in the south by the Takutu Bridge at Lethem.
And in the north and east, new infrastructure projects such as the East Bank highway expansion and the forthcoming Corentyne Bridge connecting Guyana and Suriname will position Guyana as the logistics hub of northern South America.
Last year, the Government of Guyana and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia inked two loan agreements for infrastructural projects valued at US$150 million. Those funds will be spent largely on expanding the local housing programme in three regions but will also allow for critical upgrades to the Wismar Bridge in Linden, Region 10.