After 12 months of work being done on it, the much anticipated $2.3 billion four-lane Eccles-to-Mandela Highway will be opened today. Its opening will be timely, providing an alternate route for cars looking to avoid the East Bank Demerara (EBD) rush hour traffic.
According to the Housing and Water Ministry – which is executing the project, as well as phase two, which extends from Eccles to Great Diamond – the ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held today at the roundabout end of the four-lane highway at 19:00h.
The project, being carried out by the Ministry’s Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), has seen the construction of the country’s first fully concreted four-lane highway, with dual carriageways of two lanes each and jointed reinforced concrete pavement.
It was envisioned that this four-lane highway would connect to another road, the Diamond-to-Eccles Road, which was opened in December of last year. Thus, it would provide an alternative access in key communities such as Prospect, Herstelling and Mocha.
The Mandela-to-Eccles Road, on which construction had started in April 2021, was initially supposed to be completed by 2021 year-end. This did not happen, however, as there were delays caused by inclement weather.
Last month, Housing and Water Minister Collin Croal had told this publication that there was a delay with the completion of a concrete bridge along the road. At the time, he had said the entire project was about 95 per cent completed.
Prior to works starting on the road, contracts were signed with six contractors, each given a lot. While the new four-lane highway was designed in-house, the contractors to execute the project were drawn from Guyana, Brazil and Trinidad.
Among the contractors who received contracts were Guyamerica Construction Incorporated to the tune of $555 million; MTSUL Construcoes Limited, M and P Investment Incorporated and Cobra Eireli for $364.4 million; Puran Bros Disposal Incorporated for $360.2 million; Collin Talbot Contracting Services and Eron Lall Civil Engineering Works for $256.7 million; Aronco Services Incorporated for $471 million, and JS Guyana Incorporated for $352.4 million.
As it relates to the second phase of the project, which will see the four-lane road continuing beyond Eccles all the way to Great Diamond, EBD, works are ongoing. Contracts to the tune of $13.3 billion were awarded to 12 contractors last December, and all contractors have already commenced works.
Croal had previously disclosed that land clearance has been completed, and the contractors were currently conducting sand-filling along that stretch.
Previously, it was reported that the contractors had encountered a challenge at the lot covering the boundary at the Mocha-Herstelling portion of the road. At that area, there were about 35 buildings.
However, the Ministry has already engaged the property owners for them to be relocated. Last month, the Housing Minister indicated that while most of them had already started to move, there were a few more to be sorted out.
This four-lane road project is a result of efforts by 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.
Already, the Housing Ministry has constructed an alternative road from Diamond Housing Scheme to Mocha on the East Bank to divert traffic from the public road. That project was completed to the tune of $5 billion, and was opened last December in time for the Christmas holidays.
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. (G3)