Jagdeo Raises Questions About New Demerara River Bridge

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Says Government Needs to Provide Answers Publicly

GUYANA — Opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo is raising several concerns regarding the the construction of the new Demerara Harbour Bridge, which Government says will begin next year.

Among the issues that need to be urgently addressed, according to Jagdeo, are funding for the project and the acquisition of land.

“There are questions to be answered and publicly… Will there be subsidy to cushion the tolls, what will be the tolls, what about supporting infrastructure, guarantee for debt?” Jagdeo was reported by the Stabroek News as asking.

Comparing the presentations by the Dutch company Lievense CSO Consultants, which carried out the feasibility study and design for the new bridge, Jagdeo produced a dossier of information on the Berbice Bridge as he underlined his argument that more information is needed on the project before the government goes ahead.

“The government needs to tell us now how much money they would put into this project and where it would come from,” the newspaper quoted the former President as saying. He noted that estimates for the project are between US$150- US$180M.

The Opposition Leader, according to Stabroek News, also questioned the circumstances surrounding the choice of the location – Houston to Versailles – while alleging that former People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) executive and businessman, Stanley Ming, owns most of the land on the West Bank of Demerara that government will have to purchase.

Asked if he had evidence that Ming was the owner of the property to be bought by government Jagdeo answered in the affirmative.

“Mr. Stanley Ming made a presentation in 2015 named ‘Guyana 2030’. He was a member of APNU…in his plan he had two bridges to be built across the Demerara River; one further up and one at Houston-Versailles. So miraculously now this feasibility study finds that location the most feasible,” Jagdeo was reported by the Stabroek News as saying.

“Guess who’s land on the Versailles side (that) the bridge terminates, Mister Stanley Ming, so this is another miracle,” he added.

The proposed bridge is expected to be approximately 2 kilometres north of the existing floating bridge, spanning Houston on the eastern bank of the Demerara River to Versailles on the western bank of the Demerara River. The project will see the construction of an approximately 1,500m long fixed bridge with a movable span and two approach roads of a total length of 600m. It is envisaged that the project will commence in 2018 and will be delivered in 2020.

Three locations were identified back in 2013 for the proposed bridge and four more alignments were subsequently considered. A prefeasibility study was done and all the options remained, according to the Stabroek News report.

But Jagdeo says that while the Houston-Versailles location was touted, former Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn says that the main option was decommissioning the old bridge and rebuilding right at the site. It is unclear what government will do with the old bridge when the new one is built.

The Ministry of Public Infrastructure last month announced that it will be soon embarking on the process of pre-qualifying contractors for the construction of a new Demerara River Bridge.

According to a statement issued by the ministry, contractors will be pre-qualified for the finance, design, building, and maintenance components of the new bridge.
It said these works will be procured through public tendering, with a restricted number of bidders.

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