Work is expected to commence on the construction of the much-anticipated 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometres) four-lane highway from Schoonord to Crane, Region Three (Essequibo Island – West Demerara), by the end of August 2022.
The thoroughfare is expected to significantly reduce traffic congestion along the West Bank and West Coast of Demerara upon completion.
President Dr Irfaan Ali made the announcement at a groundbreaking ceremony for the launch of a new Demerara Bank Limited Branch at Leonora recently.
“That project, the tender process went out and tendering is closed so, before the end of maybe August, you will see mobilisation to get this highway going,” the Head-of-State said.
In April, the President announced plans for the construction of the new highway, and in June, the Ministry of Housing and Water requested bids for the project which will be divided into eight lots.
The road construction is expected to be completed ahead of the $52 billion (US$260 million) new Demerara River Bridge which has a construction time span of two years.
These massive infrastructural projects will add to the Diamond, East Bank Demerara (EBD) to Mandela, Georgetown road which will be completed soon, the Eccles, EBD to Ogle East Coast Demerara (ECD) road, and the widening and expansion of the ECD Railway Embankment Road.
President Ali also spoke of plans for the expansion of the New Berbice Highway, and a new major highway road from Conversation Tree to Georgetown.
the President said the thoroughfares will improve the flow of traffic along the coast, open up more areas for housing development and expansion of existing housing schemes.
It will also see the establishment of commercial hubs.
“In the process of economic growth, particularly in urbanised areas, there is what you call de-urbanisation. So, in Georgetown, along the East Coast and East Bank, you are seeing a ballooning of economic activity.
What comes with that ballooning of economic activity, is that an outward push of the boundaries may not be a legal push, but it’s an economic and social push of the boundaries of the concentrated areas.
So, Houston started with the shore base, you see how that push has taken place there and it goes beyond Providence all the way to Diamond.”
With this major economic growth comes the demand and increased cost for construction materials, rental, as well as skilled labour.
President Ali said that these challenges are being addressed in collaboration with the private sector.
“So, the people who will work in jobs to support the development, they are expanding further on the East Coast, because they’re looking also for better housing facilities in terms of costs and actually, it is pushing on the west coast. That is why you are seeing the bottleneck of traffic now expanding from Crane when you go in the morning, in the evening and you will notice that there is an increase in rent on the west side and that is a consequence,” the President further explained.
The PPP/C government announced a whopping $552.9 billion national budget this year, with a large portion allocated to the Ministry of Public works for major road projects.
It includes $8.3 billion for the rehabilitation of the Corentyne Main Road from Palmyra to Crabwood Creek; $2.6 billion for the rehabilitation of the entire Soesdyke-Linden Highway and $1.1 billion to complete the Sheriff Street – Mandela Road Network and Expansion Project.