Bids for Linden-Mabura Hill road project to commence in May

– prequalification of contractors underway

The current state of the road

Preparations for the first phase of the long-anticipated Linden to Lethem road upgrade are likely to be kicked off with the tender being launched in May of 2021, even as the Ministry of Public Works currently prequalifies contractors for the project.
According to the “Invitation for Prequalification of Contractors” seen by this publication, invitations for bids are expected to be issued in May. But in the meantime, contractors wishing to be prequalified for the project were invited to submit their documents by March 30, 2021.
The invitation listed a number of requirements for such contractors. They must have an annual turnover over the last five years of at least US$80 million. They are also required to have a demonstratable cash flow, inclusive of access to credit, of US$13.5 million.
Additionally, they are required to have experience as a prime contractor in at least two contracts that are comparable in nature and complexity as the proposed Linden to Mabura Hill road upgrade.
This must have been done within the last five years and each contract must be at least US$80 million in value and no less than 80 per cent complete. Lest there be any uncertainty of the complexity of the road upgrade, the invitation also listed the scope of works.
“The key elements of the scope of works are construction of sub-base and base courses and an asphaltic concrete surface course; construction of two reinforced concrete bridges of approximate span 20m; construction of five reinforced concrete twin box culverts; installation of 17 reinforced concrete minor pipe culverts and construction of geocell and concrete-lined drains,” the invitation states.
It was announced in December of last year that the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) had approved funding for the road project spanning 121 kilometres from Linden to Mabura Hill – the first phase of the much-anticipated construction of a Linden-Lethem road connectivity.
The US$190 million project is being funded by a US$112 million loan from CDB, a grant of £50 million from the United Kingdom Government through the CDB-administered United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund; and a contribution of US$12 million from the Government of Guyana. It represents the largest project that the CDB has financed in its 50 years of existence.
The project is the first phase of a wider plan to develop a transportation corridor from Georgetown to Lethem on the southwest border; connecting the port in Georgetown with northern Brazil. It will include the construction of a crossing at Kurupukari to replace the current ferry, which has limited capacity and does not operate on a 24-hour basis.
The unpaved 450-kilometre road from Linden to Lethem has been at the centre of many woes, due to its impassable state in the rainy season, and moreover, flooding along low-lying sections of the road. The upgraded road corridor will provide year-round connectivity between Linden and Mabura Hill, improving conditions for local and long-haul transport which can increase trade between Guyana and Brazil.
Along with the improved road network, residents in the remote communities along the Linden to Mabura Hill corridor will see immediate benefits from improved access to basic essential services and an expansion in economic activity. The project is also expected to bolster eco-tourism along the corridor by improving access to several nature reserves, such as the Iwokrama Rain Forest.
Funding for the Linden-Lethem road project was put on pause by the British Government, owing to the recently-concluded political upheaval in Guyana. Public Works Minister Juan Edghill said that they were in talks with the UK counterparts, and the possibility was open to commence works in 2021.
Once construction starts on the Linden to Lethem road, it will join a number of other projects that the new People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government plans to begin in 2021 in what President Dr Irfaan Ali has described as a flurry of development.