Corentyne River Bridge: Contract signed for preliminary studies; EoIs for construction launched

Preparatory work is moving apace for the much-anticipated Corentyne River Bridge as a US$2 million contract was signed on Wednesday in Suriname for several preliminary studies and research to be conducted, while a call for Expressions of Interest (EoIs) was simultaneously launched for the construction of the link between the two neighbouring nations.

Public Works Minister Juan Edghill and his Surinamese counterpart, Riad Nurmohamed (centre) signing the US$2 million contract with a representative from WSP Caribbean for feasibility studies and research on the Corentyne River Bridge

The Governments of Guyana and Suriname have already decided on a Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Maintain (DBFOM) model for the Corentyne River Bridge that will be constructed via a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) arrangement. It will have a lifespan of 100 years.
The Corentyne River Bridge will run approximately 3.1 kilometres, connecting Moleson Creek in Guyana to South Drain in Suriname with a landing on Long Island in the Corentyne River, where a commercial hub and tourist destination will be established.
On Wednesday, subject Minister Juan Edghill led a delegation from the Public Works Ministry to Suriname for the signing of the contract for the feasibility study and design of the bridge, which he said is a milestone for the project.
He added that the launch of the EoIs was also reflective of not only both Governments’ commitment towards achieving a quality bridge across the Corentyne River as early as possible, but improving the lives of their peoples.
“With the launching of Expressions of Interest today, we hope to invite the best firms from around the world to become involved and engage in the building of the Corentyne Bridge as to advance our joint infrastructure development agenda. The citizens of Guyana and Suriname must be satisfied that their Governments are committed to the comprehensive development of this space,” Edghill posited.

Development of two nations
The Minister further noted that this bridge was more than just an infrastructure project, but was a physical and social connection between the two countries that cut across various economic sectors.
“It is a vision for the further development of two nations being realised. Development practitioners have agreed that bridges are key drivers of economic activity, ensuring the increased efficiency of trade, rapid exchange of ideas and quick access to services for those who need them most,” he stated.
The US$2 million contract for the preliminary studies and research was awarded to WSP Caribbean, which outbid seven other shortlisted and pre-qualified consultancy firms for the project. All eight shortlisted firms had conducted a site visit last November before submitting their proposals to do the studies for the bridge project.
WSP’s scope of work includes: geo-technical tests and study; topography study; hydraulic, hydrographic and morphologic studies; traffic demand and traffic projects/forecasts; financial and economic evaluation; PPP evaluation/PPP suitability on DBFOM model; environmental assessment (ESIA scooping report); tender documents for DBFOM model and the preliminary design of bridges and roads.
The contract period is seven months within which all studies and research reports will have to be completed.
Thereafter, it is anticipated that tenders for the construction of the bridge will be out by early next year.
According to Suriname’s Public Works Minister, Riad Nurmohamed, a lot of work has been done to get to this stage and fast-track the Corentyne River Bridge project, which is said can take about two years to be completed depending on the final design.
“You have to take [into consideration] the situation now in the world. Under COVID conditions, it’s not so easy to get things [done] very fast… We hope that before the end of the year we can, perhaps, start with some pre-work. If we have selected a good company in time, [it] can be that we can start earlier; if not; it will be for sure in the beginning of or in the first quarter of 2023,” the Surinamese Minister stated.
Running from Moleson Creek to Long Island, the bridge will be a low-level structure, approximately one kilometre long; with a 2200-metre (2.2 km) road across Long Island and a high bridge, spanning 2100 metre (2.1 km) thereafter.
At the high end of the bridge, which will facilitate marine traffic, it will cater for 40,000 to 45,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage) capacity featuring a vertical (height) clearance of 43 metres and a horizonal (width) clearance of about 100 metres.
In addition, both ends of the bridge will have connecting roads.
The prioritisation of the bridge across the Corentyne River has been much touted by both President Dr Irfaan Ali and his Surinamese counterpart, President Chandrikapersad Santokhi.
In October 2020, Ministers Edghill and Nurmohamed had visited the site of the proposed Guyana-Suriname river bridge across the Corentyne River.
There were three points of demarcation identified – Moleson Creek, Long Island in the Corentyne River and South Drain in Suriname. Both Ministers planted flags on the Guyana side of the river and then the Suriname side of the river – where the bridge is to be constructed – as well as on Long Island.
Then in February 2021, the Governments of Guyana and Suriname had invited companies to submit EoIs to provide consultancy services for the conduct of a feasibility study and the preparation of detailed designs for the construction of the bridge.
The Corentyne River bridge will not only link the two neighbouring countries, but also open up access to greater economic opportunities beyond them into French Guiana, and through the road network being developed into Brazil, and eventually further into South America.
Moreover, it is anticipated that Long Island will become an economic hub and free zone that will also see major infrastructural development such as hotels, recreational parks, entertainment spots, tourist attractions, malls, and farmers’ markets.
Edghill was accompanied to Suriname on Wednesday by Public Works Ministry Permanent Secretary Vladim Persaud, and the Ministry’s Chief Transport Planning Officer, Patrick Thompson. (G8)