Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and Chinese Ambassador to Guyana Guo Haiyan, today signed a Framework Concessional Loan Agreement to the tune of US$192 Million to finance Phase II of the East Coast Road Project.
The signing was witnessed by Minister of Public Works Bishop Juan Edghill and other officials of the Ministry of Finance and the Chinese Embassy.
Phase II of the project will include extension of the Railway Embankment Road into four lanes from Sheriff Street to Orange Nassau, extension of the main East Coast Roadway from Orange Nassau to Mahaica as well as rehabilitation of the existing East Coast Demerara road from Belfield to Orange Nassau which will allow for additional lanes.
This Phase will also see the construction of 48 bridges and 22 culverts and another Bridge across the Hope Canal. The loan for the project is being provided by the Exim Bank of China. Phase I of the project was done during the previous term of the People’s Progressive Party /Civic Government (PPP/C) and included the extension of the East Coast main road.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Chinese Ambassador recalled that Guyana and China had recently celebrated 50 years of good relations, cooperation, mutual respect and mutual support and benefit and noted that China cherishes the friendship and cooperation with Guyana. She added that China is willing to strengthen this cooperation and the road- building project forms part of its global development initiative.
“We believe that the project borne through cooperation of the two countries will bring more benefit for people. The current financial situation is so volatile and poses a great challenge to developing countries and the concessional loan demonstrates China’s commitment to common development and gives an indication of China’s confidence in Guyana’s development and in the two countries’ bilateral cooperation,” the Ambassador expressed.
Making brief remarks as he witnessed the signing, Minister Edghill noted that the road project is a major intervention in the road network along the East Coast corridor and will create greater accessibility, especially with the kinds of investments that the President Ali-led Administration is making and the possibilities of what could develop at Enmore in terms of industrialization and job-creation for people on the East Coast corridor.
“The already congested new four-lane needs to be supported by additional carriageways. It was the PPP/C while in office in the 2011 period that started that East Coast expansion and widening and here we are today. It will see the railway embankment from Sheriff Street (from the roundabout) to Orange Nassau being expanded into four lanes then the expansion of the East Coast. Then there will be the rehabilitation of the existing ECD road from Belfield to Orange Nassau. This will allow us to have additional lanes (four lanes on the railway embankment and for some sections-two lanes so that we’ll be able to see greater comfort in commuting into the city or out of the city while allowing for larger capacity in terms of containerized traffic to help with the movement of goods that will eventually evolve with the development of Enmore as a major job-creation centre,” Minister Edghill explained.
Meanwhile, Minister Singh prior to signing the agreement expounded on the ease of traffic congestion and decrease in commute time which the road project completion will allow for and the ramping up of economic activity and development occurring under the stewardship of the People’s progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) both in its current and previous terms in office. Dr. Singh also highlighted the increase in vehicular traffic due to more persons being able to own their own homes and vehicles while the PPP/C is in office. He also alluded to the increase in the number of trucks and other large vehicles carrying good and materials and noted that this is a reflection of the construction and development boom.
“This is something that we welcome…in response to it, we take very seriously the obligation to expand our road network to ease this pressure and so as soon as President Ali came into office, Government set about an aggressive campaign to immediately transform our transport network. We have seen already parallel bypass roads constructed on the East Bank. Today you can drive from Sheriff Street to Diamond without ever touching the traditional East Bank road as we know….,” Dr. Singh emphasised.
He added that Government is building an Ogle to Diamond Road so that there will be multiple roads, pointing out that Government is not only addressing the EBD, but also the ECD as Government continues building out to provide an additional artery for travel between the East Coast and the East Bank which ultimately form an important part of Government’s transport infrastructure modernisation plans.