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Contract for New Demerara River Bridge to be signed soon Demerara Harbour Bridge

A contract for the construction of a New Demerara River Bridge will be signed soon, Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill disclosed on Monday.

The announcement follows the ‘no objection’ by Cabinet back in November, for China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd. to construct the bridge at a cost of some $51.2 billion.

“At this stage, a specially appointed team is concluding the negotiations and all the administrative details to prepare for the signing of the contract for the new Demerara Harbour Bridge. Between the week before Christmas and today, six such meetings were held and the sun is getting ready to shine brightly because we should have a final contract agreed on in the very shortest possible time,” Minister Edghill stated at his year-end press conference.

The new bridge forms part of government’s drive to expand and modernise Guyana’s transport infrastructure. The new bridge will replace the aged Demerara Harbour Bridge with a modern four-lane structure that will facilitate greater traffic capacity and dramatically improve commuter convenience.

Minister Edghill said government is investing heavily in keeping afloat the old Demerara Harbour Bridge, which was neglected by the APNU/AFC Administration. He described it as a disaster waiting to happen, that would have displaced thousands of Guyanese who use the bridge daily.

“Budget 2021 catered for the rebuilding of a new span nine and for repairs to spans nine and ten as a temporary model…while we are building the new high- span, four lane Demerara Harbour Bridge which we expect to be completed in two years, between that two-year period, we need to keep this current bridge operable,” the Minister explained.

General Manager of the Demerara Harbour Bridge, Wayne Watson said the $1.2 billion project is expected to be completed soon.

Watson explained that, “it was scheduled to finish in December 2021, but because of consideration for users, we are now projecting somewhere between April. In order to replace span nine, the rehabilitation work of both span nine and 10 must be completed which will require some closure of the bridge. The total closure to do the rehabilitation is 16, six-hour closures, to date we have only done five.”

Nevertheless, Minister Edghill highlighted that the old bridge will not be pushed in a corner and left to rot upon completion of the new bridge.

“Sections of the bridge can be used. It can be used in the Kwakwani crossing, it can be used in several parts of the hinterland, maybe some of it can be used at Kurupukari but we are looking at more permanent infrastructure for the Linden-Lethem Road… I can tell you it would not be old iron pushed in a corner. It would be properly used for the development of Guyana,” the Public Works Minister said.

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Guyanese, Surinamese officials to meet this week on contractor for Corentyne River Bridge of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill and the Surinamese Delegation sail up the Corentyne River to plant the flags at Long Island.

Construction of the Corentyne River Bridge, which will link Guyana and Suriname, will commence soon as representatives from the two countries will be meeting this week to select a bidder for the massive project.

“Within this week, myself and my counterpart from Suriname will be engaged in discussions to ensure that we have the final bidder selected and work going because this bridge between Guyana and Suriname over the Corentyne River is high on the agenda of both administrations and both Presidents,” Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill stated during a press conference on Monday.

There are a total of eight shortlisted consultancy firms, including three joint ventures. These firms are WSP Caribbean Limited; EXP Services Inc in association with Pedelta, Arcadia, CEMCO; TYPSA, Leonhardt, Andrä und Partner GmbH and Firm Engineering NV; and Politecnica and Rina JV and sub-consultants ILACO and SRKN’gineering & Associates

The bridge will be constructed using a Design Build Finance Model through a private partnership arrangement with incentives given by both governments to the preferred bidder.

In October 2020, Edghill and his Surinamese counterpart, Dr Riad Nurmohamed had visited the site of the proposed Guyana-Suriname river bridge across the Corentyne River.

There were three points of demarcation identified – Moleson Creek, Long Island in the Corentyne River and South Drain in Suriname. Both Ministers planted flags on the Guyana side of the river and then the Suriname side of the river – where the bridge is to be constructed.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the construction of a high-span bridge over the Corentyne River linking the two countries was signed in November, 2020 during President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali’s Official visit to Suriname.

President Ali had said the construction of the bridge will create tremendous opportunities for both countries.

“Once constructed, not if constructed, the bridge will serve as a permanent physical link between the people of Guyana and Suriname but more importantly, that links to the rest of the South American continent,” President Ali had said.

Suriname’s President, Chandrikapersad Santokhi had stated that the bridge would mark a new era for both countries in several areas.

“This bridge on the Corentyne River is not only important to facilitate the movement of persons and goods, trade and cross border cooperation it also symbolises a transition from the old to a new era; the era of wellbeing and prosperity of our people and freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” he had said.

Reports indicate that the Corentyne River bridge is expected to be a flat bridge from Guyana to Long Island in the Corentyne River and then a high-span bridge from there to the Surinamese mainland to allow for heavy marine traffic. This bridge is expected to promote the safe movement of people and products.

Moreover, it is anticipated that Long Island will become an economic hub and free zone that will also see major infrastructural development such as hotels, recreational parks, entertainment spots, tourist attractions, malls, and farmers’ markets.

With the commitment to bridge Guyana and Suriname over the Corentyne River within five years, this project is expected to open up the pathway for other major developmental projects including the much-anticipated deep-water harbour project in Guyana.

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