Environmental Impact of Ogle by-pass road up for consultation
The Government organisation, in a notice published in one of the daily newspapers on Saturday, said the document was recently submitted to the EPA by India-based consultant RITES Limited.
“In accordance with the EPA Act Chapter 20:05, the Environmental Protection (Amendment) Act 2005, and the Environmental Protection Regulations 2000, members of the public are hereby invited, within 60 days of the publication of this notice, to review the report and make written submissions to the Environmental Protection Agency, as they consider appropriate.”
The document can be viewed and downloaded from the agency’s website or purchased from the EPA’s office at Ganges Street, Sophia, Greater Georgetown, upon request.
Back in 2016, Finance Minister Winston Jordan had signed a US$50 million loan with the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of India for the construction of the bypass road, which will provide an alternative route connecting the East Coast of Demerara at Ogle to the East Bank at Diamond.
The preliminary cost of the project was pegged at US$104 million. However, when he presented the 2019 budget last year, the Finance Minister revealed that the projected cost had spiked to some US$120 million and as such, Guyana would either have to approach its bilateral partner for more funds or just await revenues from the nascent oil and gas sector.
However, former Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Venkatachalam Mahalingam had told this publication back in June that his Government could come up with the additional funds, but there would have to be a formal proposal from the Guyana Government.
Since the Indian Government is funding the project, it is required that contracts be awarded to companies from that country and as such, a 10-month design consultancy project was awarded to RITES Limited. The consultants have already submitted a Detailed Project Report (DPR) outlining the draft final design of the bypass road.
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson told the National Assembly in May that the project was turning out to be of a much bigger scale than previously envisioned.
“What was previously envisaged when the loan was taken was a single road linking house lot developments, [but] what has been designed and is being reviewed at the moment is a dual carriageway, which is not just for linking house lots; it is actually an additional new entryway into the city. So, it’s new bypass road [design], so, therefore, it is vastly improved than what was initially perceived,” Patterson had told the Committee of Supply as he successfully sought additional funds.
The Minister requested an additional $67.41 million to cover payments for consultancy services provided by the Indian firm as well as to carry out preparatory works on the route earmarked for the new bypass road.
He explained that along the area identified for the new road link, there was a “swampy” section and part of the monies sought would be injected into clearing that area.
When the final design is approved by Government, the project will go to tender for a contractor, which will also be an Indian firm.
The Diamond-Ogle bypass project will see some 26 kilometres of road constructed, linking two of the country’s main thoroughfares. This new road link will also be connected to key communities in Georgetown and along the East Bank of Demerara. These include Diamond, Mocha and Eccles – all on the East Bank – and Aubrey Barker Road in Georgetown.
When it comes to the Environmental Impacts, it was noted that construction works will require large quantities of water which will be supplied “mainly from nearby streams”.
On the other hand, it was also noted that “Potential impacts to soil could result from the development of the roads, site clearing and access road diversion and construction can potentially result in soil loss through increased soil erosion. Roads and other transport lines in the terrain may result in increased soil erosion. If site clearing activities coincide with the rainy season, heavy rainfall may increase erosion on roads and surrounding areas”.
Dust emissions from the road will also be a concern as was highlighted in the assessment but to reduce the impacts on air quality, speed limits will be instituted and water will be sprinkled to keep the dust levels down.