GUYANA: US$260M contract signed for new Demerara River Bridge

May 26, 2022 Kaieteur News – By Alliyah Allicock

Kaieteur News – Following some five months of negotiations with China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) and its partners, the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Public Works on Wednesday signed the contract for the construction of a new US$260 million Demerara River Bridge (DRB).

A 3D model of the new Demerara Harbour Bridge which was released earlier this year.

The project which was awarded to CRCC and its partners China Railway Caribbean Company Limited and China Railway Engineering Bureau Group Company Limited will see the construction of a modern four-lane structure linking Region Three and Four.              

The new bridge which is slated to be completed in two years is said to have a life span of 100 years. This was announced by Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar who joined Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, Senior Minister within the Office of the President, Dr. Ashni Singh, Ambassador of The People’s Republic of China, Guo Haiyan, and Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand among other officials at the signing ceremony held at Providence East Bank Demerara yesterday.

Ministry of Public Works, Permanent Secretary Vladim Persaud yesterday signing the contract with a representative of China Railway Construction Corporation International for the new Demerara River Bridge. (DPI Photo)

In his brief remarks, Indar stated that the length of the bridge is 2.65km and the width of the driving surface is 23.6 meters which is around 77.8 ft. He noted that the bridge is a hybrid design at the navigation span which is also called the high span.

The vertical height at this span he noted is around 50 meters from the main highest watermark. “That means that a vessel maybe a handymax size vessel can pass freely under the bridge. So that is the kind of traffic that we are accommodating. There are cycle lanes on the bridge and the width of the high span is about 210 meters,” he explained.

Delivering his feature address, Minister Edghill said that the project is a historic one and that the road leading up to it has been a long and challenging one. “Today is the culmination of almost ten years of planning dating back to March 2013 when the then Minister of Public Works , Robeson Benn commissioned a pre-feasibility study to examine the pertinence of the construction of a new fixed bridge across the Demerara River. We also know that later in 2017, the Ministry commissioned what is now famously known as the Lievense CSO feasibility study which examined eight possible locations which include this Nandy Park to La Grange alignment for the construction of the new bridge,” Edghill disclosed.

The Minister expressed that they are satisfied to have a contract signed to build the new bridge and thanked the technical and legal teams who played a crucial part in having a contractor assigned to do the works. “After months of careful scrutiny by technical and legal experts, both local and overseas-based, we are satisfied today that we have a contract with a joint venture lead by China Railway Construction Corporation International that will deliver the Government’s requirement for a new four lane bridge,” Edghill affirmed. Lastly, the Minister noted that this contract is the largest transport infrastructure project to ever be financed by the Government of Guyana and that they are happy to have this project delivered to the citizens.

The New River Bridge aims to replace the aging Demerara Harbour Bridge. Kaieteur News had reported that the contract for the new DHB was first given to China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited last year to the tune of US$256.6 million.

Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo announced earlier in February, during an interview with a foreign media house that the contract was pulled from that firm as the cost of financing was too high. During the interview, the Vice President said, “we have just terminated the negotiations with them (CSCEC) because the cost of financing is too high.”

The Chinese firm had secured the contract to build the new bridge under a Design-Build-Finance (DBF) model. However, according to information provided in the National Estimates of 2022, the financing of the bridge is not external but rather is being funded by central government. During the reading of the Budget 2022, Senior Minister with responsibility with Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh had announced that this year, some $21.1B has been allocated for the project.

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