Contract for new Demerara River bridge to be signed by year end – President Ali

− financial proposals due in October

President Irfaan Ali

The contract for the much-anticipated new Demerara River crossing is expected to be awarded and signed by the end of this year, according to President Dr Irfaan Ali.
“Before the end of the year, the contract for the new four-lane Demerara Harbour Bridge will be signed,” the Head of State said during remarks at the opening of the Amazonia Mall in Providence, East Bank Demerara, on Friday.
Contacted for an update on the project, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill told Guyana Times on Friday that the financial proposals from the nine pre-qualified companies are due in early October and thereafter, Government will move to select the “preferred contractor”.
The Public Works Ministry in April launched the bid documents for the “long-awaited and extremely necessary” new Demerara River bridge.
Some of prequalified contractors have formed joint ventures in order to bid for the project. They are: China State Construction Eng Corp (China); Ballast Needam Infra Suriname BV (headquartered in The Netherlands); China Geizhouba Group Co Ltd (China); JV – China Railway International Group Co Ltd, China Railway Major Bridge Eng Group Co Ltd, Reconnaissance & Design Inst Co Ltd (China); JV – China Road & Bridge Corp Peutes y Calzadas Infrastructuras SLU (China and Spain); JV – OECI SA and Odebrecht Engenharia E Coonstrucao SA OEC (Brazil); JV – China Railway Construction Corporation (International) Ltd, China Railway Construction (Caribbean) Co Ltd, and China Railway Construction Bridge Engineering Bureau Group Co Ltd (China & Trinidad and Tobago); JV – Rizzani de Eccher S p A & Preconco Ltd (Italy and Barbados), and Boskalis Guyana Inc Eiffage Genie Civil (Guyana & The Netherlands).
Initially, 21 Expressions of Interest (EoIs) were received for the project but only nine bidders were shortlisted.
The Ministry had said that each of the prequalified contractors were sent a copy of the bid documents in April. The bidders are now required to submit their proposals for either a Design, Build and Finance (DBF) option, or a Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Maintain (DBFOM) option.
This new bridge across the Demerara River will be high-fixed span with a 50-metre flyover at minimum or “as high as, or higher than, the Marriott Hotel” to allow for marine vessels to pass without any interruption to vehicular traffic.
As such, the bridge would land aback Nandy Park on the East Bank of Demerara and at La Grange, West Bank Demerara, from where an alternative highway would be constructed all the way to Parika, East Bank Essequibo.
Already, an application for the project was filed at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), followed by an advertisement for a firm to complete the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The new bridge is expected to be completed in two years from the date of the commencement order.
The construction of the new bridge will be a timely one, as the East Bank is notorious for its heavy traffic congestions due to the current retractable bridge.
In addition to reduced travel time, the Ministry said this project will also see greater economic activity, greater accessibility for new housing opportunities, expansion of the manufacturing sectors – which will be able to operate freely on the West Side and not be limited to the Georgetown and East Bank Demerara areas, unhindered marine traffic, and swifter movement of cargo and the expansion of the Demerara Waterfront, since marine traffic will no longer be encumbered in any way whatsoever.
Floating at 1.25 miles, the current Demerara Harbour Bridge is a strategic link between the East and West Banks of Demerara, facilitating the daily movement of thousands of vehicles, people, and cargo.
The structure was built in the 1970s, but was opened in July 1978 with the expectation of lasting only 10 years. However, some 43 years later, it is still floating.
The former APNU/AFC Administration was originally going to build another retractable, three-lane bridge, but after immense criticism, had switched to a fixed, four-lane proposal.
However, the awarding of the $146 million contract to have a feasibility study done for the project was marred in controversy, with Auditor General Deodat Sharma pointing to major breaches of Guyana’s financial laws.
The Public Procurement Commission (PPC) had subsequently flagged former Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson for requesting from the then Cabinet that the feasibility contract be sole-sourced instead of being processed through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
The PPC had found that after the bidding process was annulled because of non-responsive bidders, NPTAB had approved that the project to be re-tendered. But, instead, Dutch company LievenseCSO was handpicked by Patterson to conduct the study.
Additionally, it was revealed that funds from the Asphalt Plant which is managed by the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC) were used to pay for the feasibility study.
As such, former Minister Patterson and former Head of the DHBC, Rawlston Adams, were charged in January this year for defrauding the Asphalt Plant of $162.6 million. They are currently out on bail as the matter engages the court.