Guyana: Work to begin on new Demerara River Bridge in 2019

Work to begin on new Demerara Harbour Bridge next year

Demerara Harbour Bridge

In a recent interview with the Department of Public Information, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, assured that work on the crossing between Houston and Versailles which is pivotal for linking Regions Three and Four and further afield will begin next year.         

As for the controversy over the procedure to secure the consultancy design, he explained that the procurement process sought was the most expeditious one. This led to the matter being brought before the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
SOCU had got involved after the Opposition, the People’s Progressive Party, complained that the G$100M-plus consultancy for a feasibility study did not properly follow procurement procedures.

Minister Patterson said, “The recommendations from the Public Procurement will be taken on board. They never questioned the validity of the information we presented, there was never a question of the technical soundness or the competency of the consultancies, so we have good information.”
According to the Public Infrastructure Minister, the Ministry received 12 submissions which enable the Ministry to see the real costs in the open market.
Prior to the procurement process, it was envisaged that the new four-lane bridge would cost about $250M, however, through the first process the cost estimate was approximately $200M.

Minister Patterson said this encouraged the ministry to extend the procurement process.

“We realised that we could afford more with the money we have. That’s why we decided to ask all 12 firms or anyone else to bid. We know that the cost of the bridge is under US$200M. It is just the best financing package available we are going for. Therefore, we are going through a public/private partnership some time this month for updates on those quotes through the public/private partnership department under the Finance Ministry. Then we will be moving ahead with the bridge.”
According to Minister Patterson, the government has sufficient funding for the new crossing but is pursuing the public/private arrangement to allow private stakeholders to contribute in the very ‘economical’ project.

The restrictions, however, will be the capping of tolls so there is no hike in charges to cross the bridge. Minister Patterson emphasised that the government has a responsibility to address the need for infrastructure.

“While we are still confident our process was right because we went to Cabinet and got its approval; we await the outcomes of all the reports but we will be proceeding this year with the project. The bridge will take 18 months so if we start mid next year we can put in our part of the financing as well.”

The best site, according to the feasibility study for a new bridge to replace the one at Peter’s Hall, will be at Houston, East Bank, with the western end at Versailles, West Bank Demerara.

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