Crane-to-Schoonord highway project “moving apace” – Pres Ali

– says major infrastructural projects driving Reg 3 growth

President Dr Irfaan Ali on Saturday inspected ongoing works on several infrastructural projects in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) including the $11.8 billion Schoonord to Crane four-lane road, which he said is moving apace.
In September 2022, eight contractors were awarded the contract to construct 4.1 kilometres of a dual-carriageway road with a 15-month timeline.

President Dr Irfaan Ali and Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar, during Saturday’s visit

According to the Head of State, despite the contractors starting the project late last year, significant work has already been undertaken. The preliminary works, which include land clearing, and sand filling, are expected to be completed by December.
“The work is moving apace. We’re hoping to have it completed before the end of the year,” he noted.
President Ali added, however, that the project is not without challenges especially given the fact that the large section of the highway is being built on virgin lands.
“There are many difficulties with this project not only with the terrain and building from swamp… but the movement of sand and the availability of material. A lot of this sand had to be barged in and then trucked to the site. And then we had all of these [which] were mud dams that had to be created to a hard surface to get the material in. So, it’s a lot of engineering and technical work that had to be done,” the Head of State posited.
He further stated that these were compounded by the road traffic and constraints at the Demerara Harbour Bridge, thus causing the movement of heavy material and trucks to be done during the night.

Works ongoing on the Schoonord to Crane four-lane road

This Schoonord to Crane road, which is the first phase of the new highway to Parika, East Bank Essequibo, will have two roundabout connections at the two ends.
The President explained that “…the engineers had to do some technical work on the roundabout at Crane because there were some old Dutch structures there. So, you will see, actually, the design is reflective of a number of engineering modelling – all locally designed and supervised.”
Ali had previously described the new highway as “urgently required for commuters” who are often stuck in traffic for as much as three hours to get to Georgetown.
He further noted on Saturday, “This highway will not only ease the traffic but this highway now will reduce the cost to the farmers. It will bring more efficiency and reduce the cost of the product, and improve the entire value chain of the lands and the type of economic activities around here.”

An artistic impression

“The improvement and increase to the net asset value of families are just enormous. [In] the entire Region Three, and similarly in other regions, where we’re building new growth hubs …you will see that over the next couple of years, as we build out an architecture system and an infrastructure system and an economic diversification programme, you will see that every single region will have roads like this being supported,” he stated.
During his visits on Saturday, President Ali also inspected ongoing works at key sites for his Government’s model gas-to-energy project, which will see natural gas being piped from offshore to an onshore facility at Wales, West Coast Demerara, which will house a power plant and NGL plant.
The Guyanese leader contended that delivering such a massive project brings new development such as the opening up of new lands for private and public investments, improvement of infrastructure like roads for communities and farmers as well as enhanced services.
“So, it’s not just about the pipeline coming onshore but it’s all of the supporting infrastructure that is critical for the development that would come as a result of [the gas-to-energy project],” he added.
With the region undergoing massive growth because of these initiatives, the President pointed out that citizens are taking advantage of the opportunities that are there.
“This entire area is becoming a service hub. So, a lot of people are already positioning themselves for the service sector [to] support services… [These] support services is from the persons selling from a stall being enhanced, to the persons providing a high-end apartment building or engineering services or welding services or refrigerating services – all of that will feed into the whole ecosystem that is being built around this project,” he posited.
In fact, Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar, who had accompanied the Guyanese leader during his visits on Saturday, highlighted the growing need for accommodation to facilitate those who are working on the major projects in Region Three.
“There is a lot of need for housing and condominium for ex-pat workers that we don’t have in Region Three,” he stated. In the same breath, however, the Minister disclosed that already there is an expression of interest from a company to pursue a massive accommodation project.
Additionally, the Guyanese leader noted that in the healthcare sector, Region Three will see the West Demerara Regional Hospital being expanded and modernised. It will also be supported by two sub-regional hospitals along with a major private hospital that is being constructed.
Moreover, several commercial banks as well as food chain and supply chains are also increasing their presence in the region. He added that Government is also looking to enhance the region’s agriculture sector through innovation.
“We know a lot of land from the agriculture side is going into commercial use now so we’re looking to innovate as to how we can use technology to increase the yield and output even as these [other infrastructural] developments are taking place,” he stated.
According to President Ali, these interventions will bring high commercial value to the region and this, in turn, will transfer the wealth to residents.