Works have commenced on a new four-lane highway along the East Bank Demerara (EBD) corridor, running from Diamond to Buzz Bee Dam.
Contracts to the tune of almost $11 billion were signed for this new road project that will see 4.6 kilometers of asphaltic concrete roads being constructed. This project is divided into five lots and each lot given to a different contractor, totalling some $9.4 billion.
Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal told this publication on Wednesday that in addition to the five contracts, there were two other contracts signed to the tune of $995 million for the supply of sheet plies accessories that were used to carry out major and critical revetment works at Buzz Bee Dam.
This project is the third phase of a massive road initiative being undertaken by the Government to ease traffic congestion on the East Bank Demerara highway.
The first phase of this project was the $2.6 billion Mandela-to-Eccles Road, on which construction started in April 2021. This road was commissioned in April 2022.
For the second phase, the four-lane road was extended beyond Eccles all the way to Great Diamond, East Bank Demerara. The $13.3 billion Eccles to Great Diamond highway project saw 12 companies contracted to construct the four-lane road to run from the Eccles Dumpsite Road all the way to Great Diamond, connecting to the already completed Eccles to Mandela Avenue Highway.
This section of the road was commissioned earlier this month and named ‘Heroes Highway’ in honour of the five Guyana Defence Force (GDF) ranks who died in the horrific helicopter crash on December 6.These road projects are a result of efforts by the President Dr Irfaan Ali-led Government to ease traffic congestion on the East Bank, which not only leads to the country’s main port of entry – the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) – but also fields traffic coming from West Demerara.
These projects run alongside the India-funded bypass road project which would link the East Bank Demerara corridor to the East Coast of Demerara (ECD), creating a new highway in the backlands.
The Indian Government had provided a US$50 million Line of Credit (LoC) for the road link that was initially slated for Ogle, ECD, to Diamond. Under the previous Government, however, the project was at a standstill for several years.
Having taken office in 2020, the People’s Progressive Party Administration has since redesigned the project into three phases to fit the LoC. It will now run from Ogle to Haags Bosch at Eccles in the first phase, then from Eccles to Diamond, and finally from Diamond to Timehri to connect to the CJIA. However, the Indian LoC will only cover the first section of the road, that is, from Ogle to Eccles.
President Irfaan Ali has notified that approximately eight interconnecting roads are likely to be built between Eccles and Diamond, to connect old and new highways.
In Budget 2022, an allocation of $2.1 billion was made for the widening and paving of the East Bank highway from Grove to Timehri. In January 2023, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved some US$100 million to commence the Diamond/Grove to Timehri Road project.
Significant investments are particularly being made in advancing the road network to increase better access between the East Bank and East Coast of Demerara, and soon, the two districts will become better integrated into one big city.