Private Sector urged to aggressively support Govt to deepen Guyana’s port facilities

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Komal Singh

Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Komal Singh, has sounded calls for stakeholders to work along with the Guyana Government in order to aggressively pursue the deepening of local ports to accommodate deep-draft vessels.

Speaking at the 31st Anniversary Gala and Awards Ceremony of the Private Sector Commission, Singh underscored the need to deepen Guyana’s port in order to facilitate large cargo vessels on a 24-hour basis. Currently, Guyana has only tidal ports.

“We cannot handle deep-water draft vessels 24/7. I want to call on the entire Private Sector and all the other organisations: we need (to) aggressively support His Excellency and the Government of Guyana, who have taken the initiative already…to start working on deepening our port. Those conversations have started, and we, from the Private Sector, are very thankful; and we will be working very closely with Government to make sure that project is realized, which will bring tremendous benefits to Guyana,” he noted.

According to the PSC Chairman, “Currently, we see our products [cargoes] are being stuck in Jamaica and Trinidad for transshipment, and we lost a lot of time. Every time you’re stuck at a port, additional freight costs are passed to us as consumers. We can remove that by deepening our port.”

Over the past year, President Dr Irfaan Ali has been pushing a vision to make Guyana a logistics hub in the region. With work ongoing on a paved road through Lethem to connect to Northern Brazil, and with the Corentyne River Bridge to connect with Suriname pending, the aim is to use Guyana as a transshipment hub to get cargoes moved to neighbouring countries as well as to other nations in the region.

The PSC Chairman noted that making Guyana a logistics hub in the region would also benefit local companies in getting their products to other countries.

“The regional logistics hub is so critical for us at this point in time…With the aggressive developmental strategy that Government and the Private Sector have, over the next three years, we will be producing so much stuff locally and we will be producing more than what we need in Guyana. As a result, it is so critical that we work aggressively to make sure we strengthen our [country as a] regional logistics hub, so that our goods and services can reach the countries in the region and outside of region easily and timely,” Singh posited.

Back in September, President Ali had told Stabroek News that a feasibility study would have to be done on building a deep-water container port here, and if that is found to be viable, then such a project would have to be undertaken by the Private Sector with support from the Government.

World class deep-water harbourIn October 2021, the Head of State had disclosed during a press conference that Abu Dhabi Ports, a United Arab Emirates-based company that deals in industrial zones and logistics, has shown keen interest in establishing a world class deep-water harbour facility in Guyana.

In fact, the company had even sent technical teams to Guyana to work on, and look at, the possibility of developing the facility here.

“The interest is great in this project…they will have a second team coming with a follow-up on the evaluation. And they are looking at a modern, state-of-the-art port facility, operated with cutting-edge technology focusing on efficiency, safety, and security… Their initial assessment is one of great optimism. That’s how they described it. They believe that this is a project that can happen; that (it) is a project that is viable. They are now working on the nitty-gritty, the finer details in terms of this project,” the Head of State had noted.

He had further explained that while this would be a Private Sector investment, it would see the involvement of Guyana’s immediate neighbours: Brazil, Suriname, and even French Guiana, since the project would be across borders.

There has since been no update on this venture, and it is unclear whether Abu Dhabi Ports is still going ahead with the project.

On the other hand, Canada-based oil company CGX Energy Inc is currently constructing a port facility in Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne). However, Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo had previously explained that while the project is dubbed a “deep-water port”, it is just a regular port facility to support oil and gas activities.

The Berbice Deep Water Port (BWDP) project is being undertaken by Grand 2 Canal Industrial Estates (GCIE), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CGX. Back in January, the company had said it had spent over US$22 million on the BDWP project thus far. GCIE had also previously reported that there were some minor setbacks with the project, due to revisions that were needed to the design of its wharf and trestle in the Berbice River.

As the lowest bidder, GAICO Construction and General Services Inc., owned by PSC Chairman Komal Singh, was selected to construct the access trestle and wharf, and to perform the required dredging operations for the BDWP facility.

Singh had told this publication in May that the trestle was slated to be completed in a couple of weeks, which would then pave the way for other major work to commence. There has since been no further update on the project.

The port facility is intended to serve as an offshore supply base for the oil and gas industry, and as a multi-purpose terminal to service agricultural import/export, containerized and specialized cargoes, including aggregates for construction purposes.

The BDW Project is aimed at enabling provisioning of operators and vendors in the territorial waters of both Guyana and Suriname.