Guyana: Deep water port planned; but no source of funding yet- Minister Patterson

From left: Chinese Ambassador to Guyana, Cui Jianchun and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge.

Diálogo Chino is an independent journalism platform dedicated to promoting a better understanding the China-Latin America relationship and its sustainable development challenges.

On January 28, Diálogo Chino reported, “In the coming months, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) is set to deliver its report on a Guyana–Brazil transport link and a deepwater port project for the northern coast. 

Today, the Rupununi border town of Lethem is a 14-hour ride along dirt roads from the Guyanese capital, Georgetown. Red dirt is set to be placed by asphalt and Lethem converted into a major trading hub. China is expected to provide the required capital and carry out construction work.”

At a July 2018 ceremony when Guyana signed on to China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, said that Guyana’s priority at this time would be infrastructure.
He said that it “would include a system for designs of roads and harbours and the like as well as access to funding for the construction for such facilities.”

Back then, Government’s Department of Information (DPI) reported that Greenidge “hinted that there exists a possibility that the Linden-Lethem highway, particularly the Kurupukari to Lethem phase, as well as the new proposed Demerara Harbour Bridge could be financed under this initiative.”

Comments attributed to Greenidge in Diálogo Chino’s most recent article suggest that he favours going the Chinese route. When Greenidge was contacted by this newspaper, he said that he was preoccupied listening to the live ruling of the Chief Justice on Thursday.
He endeavoured to return the call “as soon as I get a minute.” The Minister never called back.

Minister David Patterson

Minister Patterson was contacted the same day. He too said that he was busy but accommodated a quick interview.
Patterson was asked about reports that China will be funding the port and a portion of the road from Brazil. He said that the mind of the Government is still undecided at this point and that it is not leaning one way or the other about source of funding.
Patterson said that the report being prepared by the IADB has nothing to do with China specifically.

He said, “They are doing a report on locations of deep water port and this is purely for recommendations for possible sites. It is more about options on where it can be located and how much it would cost if we go option A, B or C. It has no has nothing to do with the Chinese.”

The port and the road are said to be more of a benefit to China than they would be to Guyana. But Patterson did not paint this picture.
He said, “The deep water port is part of my developmental plan. I have a short, medium and long term developmental plan. The location of it is critical for you and then you know how much money it is and so forth, that is what is being done now.”

Patterson said that if the port is affordable, Guyana may opt to self-fund. “If not, then we will have to look for funding. But that is why the study is there, to let you know how much it is to cost.”
The worry is that Guyana may tie itself up with China and end up facing the consequences being endured by several other jurisdictions in Caribbean/ Latin America as well as those on the wider international stage.
The same fate that befell countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Zambia is now looming in Kenya. That African country is at risk of losing its main port to China.

Kenya will lose its lucrative Mombasa port to China should the country fail to repay huge loans advanced by Chinese lenders.
Implications of a takeover would be grave, including the thousands of port workers who would be forced to work under the Chinese lenders. Management changes would immediately follow the port seizure since the Chinese would naturally want to secure their interests.

A ship docks at the main port in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa (Reuters)

Further, revenues from the port would be directly sent to China for the servicing of an estimated Sh500 billion lent for the construction of the two sections of the SGR.
In December 2017, the Sri Lankan government lost its Hambantota port to China for a lease period of 99 years after failing to show commitment in the payment of billions of dollars in loans.

The transfer gave China control of the territory just a few hundred miles off the shores of rival India. It is a strategic foothold along a critical commercial and military waterway.
Last September, Zambia lost Kenneth Kaunda International Airport to China over debt repayment.

African countries and others like Pakistan and Sri Lanka are not the only ones being “targeted” by China. Latin America is also in the proverbial hit list.

China’s heightened interest in Latin America is flaunted through its extravagant but stained Belt and Road Initiative.

Chinese interests in Latin American commercial ports combine military and economic aspects that align with the goals of its Belt and Road Initiative.
This was recently highlighted by Dialogo, a military magazine.

In December last year, Sri Lanka handed over the control of the southern sea port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease for $1.12 billion. Photo: AFP

Chinese merchant vessel Cosco Shipping Panama crosses the new locks in Agua Clara during the inauguration of the Panama Canal expansion in Colón, June 26, 2016. (Photo: Johan Ordoñez/AFP)

Dialogo stated that Latin America seems to be an easy target for China as the region is hungry for infrastructural development and most countries do not have the money to invest.
Dialogo said, “…China is slowly taking over the region’s strategic trade and defense points. The tactic is clear, and China uses it in other parts of the world: money for ports in exchange for power.”

The magazine highlighted Panamá, a country with two of the most important ports in the region—Colón and Balboa.

The Dialogo stated, “The Chinese company—Landbridge Group—is building the Panamá Colón Container Port, a terminal for neo-Panama ships, with an investment of more than US$1 billion. In addition, China’s Harbour Engineering Company Ltd. is building a port station for cruises in the Amador area.”

The magazine pointed out that closer to Guyana, in Brazil, state-owned Chinese company Merchants Port controls the Paranaguá Port, the second largest in the country surpassed only by the Santos Port.

To gain control of the terminal, the Asian company bought Brazilian company Terminal de Contêineres Paranaguá, which managed the port, for $935 million in 2017.

In 2017, the Chinese company, China Construction, showed interest in developing and funding infrastructure in Mexico’s most important port, Manzanillo.

Further, Dialogo reported that in Peru, the Chinese company—Cosco Shipping—will develop Chancay Port with an investment of about US$2 billion. The governments of Colombia and China signed a memorandum of understanding in 2016, enabling the Asian nation to develop a series of projects near Buenaventura Port.

China promised an investment of US$16 million in the area.

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  • Chris Prashad  On February 4, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Why would anyone want to deal with the Chinese bearing in mind all the negative actions and poor performances by Chinese companies in Guyana and elsewhere in the world?????? Their main objective is to rape our country of its natural resources and evidenced in the past. For those who don’t know, there is more than enough enough funds available for all conceivable people oriented projects to benefit the citizens of our country being held by the Manna World Holding Trust. This is not a loan but funds held by the Trust for developing countries available for the asking.
    All government leaders are aware of this by now. They have all been notified by the trustee of the Trust. But it seems that most of the leaders are just puppets of the deep state criminals who enslaved the citizens of this planet through their corrupt banking cartels . These goons are desperately trying to block transfer of funds for projects already approved by the Trustee. It is time our leaders wake up to this fact and face reality. Kick these goons out of the country and remove their corrupt agents imbedded in the banking system in Guyana. This fund belongs to the people of this country and is available for all people oriented projects with no strings attached. What are our leaders afraid of ???? Trump is making use of the Trust and so can you.
    For more information about the Trust I strongly recommend that you follow the Truth, Honor and Integrity show by Thomas Williams – a spokesperson for the Trust. Avoid all copycat sites. The Trust does not have any public domain such as a website or blog or any such source. This is the only legitimate source of information for the Trust.
    Do your homework people and get the development projects on the move.
    Forget about the Chinese, the bankrupt IMF, World Bank etc. We don’t need more debts on the heads of our people. The funds are available with no strings attached.

  • Rupert Duncan  On February 4, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    GUYANA – Do not fall prey to the Chinese’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). Seek funding for the Deep Harbour Project from other sources. Brazil was interested in a road link to a deep harbour in Guyana (Lethem to the Demerara River). Be smart!

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