$5B Mocha-to-Diamond Road opens

…delayed projects will not be tolerated – President Ali
…says EBD corridor will also be a reservoir for job creation

The Mocha-to-Diamond interlink road, the construction of which was stalled under the previous A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), has been opened a little over one year into the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) term in office.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony of the Mocha-to-Diamond Interlink Road on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD), President Dr Irfaan Ali recalled that when the PPP left office in 2015, preparatory works had already been done for the road. However, little to nothing had changed by the time they returned to office in 2020.
Ali also had stern words for his own Administration, noting that with them now in office this is a different era and the foot-dragging and delayed projects that permeated the former Government’s time in office, would not be tolerated.
“I just want to put things into context. When we left office, the foundation for this road was completed. And for five years nothing happened. So we came back and we completed this project,” President Ali said.

The cutting of the ribbon to open the interlink road. From left are Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn, Housing Minister Collin Croal and President Dr Irfaan Ali. Minister within the Housing Ministry Susan Rodrigues is also in the picture

“But this morning it is not only this project that should have been completed. But there are a number of roads in Diamond itself that should have been completed by the Ministry of Public Works. And by the time I get back to Georgetown they better have answers. We are not going to play around. This is a different era. Things have to get done. Budgets are made. And everybody will be held accountable.

Reservoir for job creation
Meanwhile, the President noted that along with the many infrastructural improvements, the East Bank corridor will also be a reservoir for job creation. He said that the new road would not only serve as an auxiliary route for commuters but as a transit point for scores of workers.
“This area will be a reservoir for job creation also. We will have more than 300-400 acres of land developed specifically for industrial development, and then we have commercial development,” the President said, adding that these developments will see the creation of “hundreds, if not thousands” of jobs along the East Bank corridor.

An aerial view of the road

President Ali also explained that while the total investment for the road from start to finish is pegged at $5 billion, the construction of the major highway from Mandela Avenue to Eccles will round off the total investment on the East Bank corridor to $16 billion.
Plans are also in place to connect Eccles on the East Bank to Ogle on the East Coast of Demerara, which will initially connect to Eccles and then further on to Diamond and Timehri.

The President said that these projects are being done in anticipation of the imminent growth in traffic and to significantly ease congestion with good infrastructure and urban planning.

Road safety
With the opening of the road, President Ali took the opportunity to implore persons to use the road safely and indicated that there would be technological infrastructure to ensure this, enforced by the Police.
“With the Guyana Police Force and the Ministry (of Housing and Water), we have designed a safe road usage plan. And in that plan along this road, we envision three Police outposts — two of those outposts are already in place. The next phase, which will be very soon, is to connect cameras to those outposts,” he said.
Cameras are currently being tested, and according to the President, they will not only record drivers’ speed but also capture whether they are wearing seatbelts. He also said that amendments will be made to the law to allow for electronic tickets and strong enforcement.
The President also noted that he has observed many persons living in the vicinity of the road use it to exercise. As a result, he said he has asked the Ministry of Housing’s Director of Projects to make a jogging path, since health and wellness are integral to development and sustainability.
President Ali was joined by the Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal; the Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues and the Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy and other Government officials for the commissioning.
The $500 million project, which was undertaken by the Housing and Water Ministry, started earlier this year and was completed months ago. It was being used by commuters for a few days, until a fatal accident resulted in authorities blocking the road until the official opening.
The bypass road will run from Sixth Avenue, Diamond, to the Windsor Estate Road that leads on to the Eccles Landfill Site Road, connecting through the new Herstelling Housing Scheme and other schemes that are being developed along the EBD corridor.
Meanwhile, works are simultaneously ongoing for the extension of that alternative road from Eccles to Mandela Avenue. It is understood that the $2.3 million project is scheduled to be completed soon.
These projects are all in the overall context of the India-funded Bypass Road Project which would link the East Bank Demerara corridor to the East Coast of Demerara, 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. However, the project cost was driven up to over $208 million by the previous APNU/AFC regime and the project was at a standstill for several years.
The Ali-led PPP/C 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 Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). (G3)