… location still to be decided
President David Granger has promised that the project to see a deep-water harbour being established in Guyana is still on the cards and could become a reality as soon as funding is available and logistics worked out.
Speaking to Guyana Times Friday, the Head of State said Government is currently examining the possible location for the project.
“We are looking at the entire Public Infrastructure networks; and it is certainly still on the cards. We are currently looking at the highway from Linden to Lethem… a deep-water harbour is a logical destination for that highway because it is meant to bring goods from Lethem. So the actual location has not been determined, but once the highway is funded, we will be able to announce what the destination will be”, the Head of State told Guyana Times.
Back in early 2015, before the General and Regional Elections, the then Government had indicated that a Chinese company was moving ahead to carry out its own feasibility study for the possible location of a deep-water harbour at the mouth of the Berbice River. The then government had advised that if a deep-water port on a BOOT (Build, Own, Operate and Transfer) basis was to appear to be feasible, it would proceed by way of an open invitation for proposals.
In 2013 however, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) had approved a US$1.5 million to fund a study to prepare a road link to Brazil and a deep-water port project to be financed through a Public Private Partnership (PPP). The funding was expected to cover all engineering, environmental, social and financial studies required to prepare the road-link and deep-water port project for eventual financing through a public/private partnership, according to the IDB.
The study by the Chinese company was said to be a follow-up on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered between the Government of Guyana and the company.
Throughout the years, there have been talks about the vast economic potential and opportunities that would be made available with a deep-water port in operation.
Already, the Berbice Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the idea, saying the county, though not as developed as Demerara, is ready for the significant transformation that would accompany a deep-water harbour.
Deep-water harbours are essential points of transit for incoming people and goods. Primarily, deep-water harbours are fundamental to the movement of exports and imports of a country.
The Port of Shanghai, in China, which started off as a small port of transit, is now the highest volume port in the world and receives approximately 30 million 20-foot equivalent units per year.
In the Caribbean, the Port of Bridgetown in Barbados has immensely increased trade activities in the island and drastically boosted the tourism sector.
Barbados’ deep-water harbour now acts as a home port for many of the British-based Cruise Ship lines operating in the Caribbean region, directly impacting the tourism sector and ultimately the economy, owing to the revenue generated from tourists who are willing to spend.
In putting things into perspective, CGX Energy Inc Co-Chairman, Professor Suresh Narine had explained that a deep-water harbour in Guyana can actually take the strain off oil exploration companies which depend on the Port of Chaguaramas as the primary source of raw materials for their operations.
The Port of Chaguaramas is some 450 miles from Guyana.
If this economic activity is transferred to a closer port – in Berbice, it can significantly cut the expenses endured by these oil giants.
Also, with the availability of a cheaper option, it may likely attract more exploration companies to search for the oil in Guyana’s waters, which can further contribute to the economic development of the country.
Former President Donald Ramotar had repeatedly spoken about the expansion of the Panama Canal and how this project will soon start to impact the economic activities in Guyana.
The Panama Canal Expansion Project is intended to double the capacity of the Panama Canal by creating a new lane of traffic and allowing more and larger ships to transit.
Industry experts believe that the expansion of the Panama Canal will open a new phase for the trans-shipment in the Caribbean.
If Guyana is not up to par with the rest of the countries in the Caribbean, it is possible that the international economic activities will dwindle due to the fact that the country does not have the port to facilitate the new phase for trans-shipment of more and larger ships.