CDB President calls for strengthened partnership between Bank, Guyana

…as US$190M Linden-Lethem Road contract to be signed later this year

Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) President, Dr Hyginus Leon, who recently arrived in Guyana on a four-day official visit, is touting increased partnership between his Bank and Guyana, even outside of the assistance the Bank provides.
Dr Leon arrived in Guyana on Friday last, after which he met with President Dr Irfaan Ali and Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, who is also Guyana’s Governor to the Bank. During an interview on the State-owned NCN, Dr Leon said that one of the issues discussed was how bilateral relations could be increased between the two sides.

CDB President, Dr Hyginus Leon (right) during his interaction with Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and President Irfaan Ali

“Fundamentally, what I’d like to be able to do not just with President Ali but with all the member states, we need to have pre-transactional engagements. As a Bank, we do transactions. You have a loan request; we consider providing the loan. Technical assistance request, we consider and provide,” Dr Leon said.
The CDB President noted that Guyana is on the brink of major changes in its growth trajectory – a reference to the oil and gas sector. According to him, Guyana could be a working partner with the CDB on regional development.
“I think we need to have an almost chummy type of pre-transactional relationship, whereby we can be engaged continuously. Informally and formally. But having a dialogue. So, by doing this, we would be setting as it were the means of conversation, trust. In terms of being engaged. So that when the transaction request occurs, there’s no need for resetting. We would already be in that mode of continuous conversation before.”
Guyana is one of the founding members of CDB, having joined in 1970. The Bank has since funded a variety of projects locally. In fact, Guyana is currently home to the largest ever CDB financed project, the US$190 million Linden to Mabura Hill road upgrade. Currently, the road is an almost impassable trail.

In fact, it was disclosed by Public Works Minister Juan Edghill during a ceremony on Tuesday to commission the Washerpond Road in Linden, Region 10, that Dr Leon along with other officials had inspected the trail during his visit and that moreover, a contract for the road will be signed later this year.

The Linden-to-Lethem Road

“The PPP/C’s commitment to the people of Guyana about getting a road from Linden to Lethem, an asphaltic, concrete all-weather road, the first 125 kilometres of that road which will be from Linden to Mabura Hill, this year in the last quarter we’ll be signing the contract for that road,” Edghill said.
“Over the weekend, the President of the Caribbean Development Bank paid an official visit to Guyana. And you would have seen a low flying aircraft that caused some security concerns. That aircraft was actually showing the President, Vice President of the CDB, as well as the Project Operations Director and other officials of the CDB, the alignment and what is to be expected.”
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.
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.