Govt signs US$200M agreement with IsDB to finance Soesdyke-Linden Highway reconstruction

…Linden will be at centre of massive Region 10 infrastructural upgrade – VP

The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government on Saturday signed a US$200 million agreement with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), aimed specifically at financing the reconstruction of the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, and only one day after another US$150 million agreement was inked with a Saudi Fund.

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and President of the Islamic Bank, Dr Muhammad Al Jasser after the signin

In a statement, the Ministry of Finance explained that Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh signed the framework agreement with the President of the Islamic Bank, Dr Muhammad Al Jasser.
The US$200 million Framework Agreement was signed on the sidelines of the 2023 Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group’s Annual Meetings currently underway in Saudi Arabia. Dr Singh is leading Guyana’s delegation attending those meetings.
Upgrading the highway will involve the rehabilitation and reconstruction of 73 kilometres of the road with two lanes undivided, 9 bridges, 6 culverts with improved design, quality and standards. The project also includes ancillary works and road corridor improvements, providing essential public administration support, improved connectivity with communities, roadside and other facilities.

Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo speaking at the Linden meeting

It was only on Friday that Dr Singh and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Saudi Fund for Development, Sultan A Al-Marshad signed a US$150 million Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Saudi Fund to finance infrastructural development works for the housing sector and construction of the Wismar Bridge.
Additionally, Dr Singh had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the IsDB concerning the Country Engagement Framework for Guyana for green, resilient and sustainable infrastructure as well as for supporting economic diversification and doing business.

Ahead of Local Government Elections (LGE) 2023, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo was in Linden on Saturday where he assured residents of Linden, including his party supporters, that the billions of dollars being spent in developing Linden will have the net effect of making sure the town is the centre of cross-border trade with Brazil.
This development ranges from the work being done on the US$190 million Linden to Mabura Hill project, to the 48 bridges being built between Linden and the border. During a meeting with party supporters in Linden, Jagdeo pointed to how much they’ve spent on roads in Linden, compared to the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC).
“This year alone, we’ve spent about $2.5 billion so far on roads. We’ve never had more roads done in the history than in the last couple of years. And this year’s budget alone for roads in Linden, is more than the five years that APNU budgeted in the past.”
“And we made a decision that once it’s concrete roads, only contractors from this region will get the work to build the roads in this region. That’s the difference,” Jagdeo also said, to the cheers of those assembled.
Speaking to the US$200 million Soesdyke-Linden Highway project, as well as the four-lane bridge across Wismar, Jagdeo was optimistic that these works will start by the end of this year. According to him, they are currently considering offers for the Wismar Bridge which will be financed from the Saudi Fund for Development.
“We’ve just concluded a loan, since we got into office, to pave the Linden-Soesdyke Highway. Its US$200 million. We’re on the verge of contracting the company. We have to advertise to contract a company to build the road. But before the end of this year, you will see the project started. From the Soesdyke junction right into Linden would be paved.”
“We’ve started building a four-lane bridge right across the Demerara River that will make a difference to communities in those areas. So, you don’t have to open up bridges anymore. And we’re doing it in a way that will allow vessels. Because it’s a high bridge. The vessels can come all the way to Linden.”

No diversion
Jagdeo stressed that once these projects and more are completed, traffic from across the border bringing trade and business opportunities will have to pass through Linden. He made it clear that the Government has no intention of diverting any trade from Linden.
“There are 45 bridges between Linden and the border. We’re awarding all 48 of them, to build concrete bridges so that trucks can come from Brazil, using the Linden-Lethem Road, passing through Linden. Not diverting the traffic from Linden as they claim the PPP will move it to Berbice. But coming through Linden over a four-lane road, going down to Georgetown and then maybe branching off and going to Berbice.”
“So that here can be a central area for development. And 48 of those bridges have already been awarded. There are three parts of the Mabura stretch. So, 48 bridges, except for the Kurupukari. It’s the only remaining bridge we have to do. Then you can drive all the trucks and come through here. So, linden will be central in that business will flow through this community here and you will have good infrastructure.”
It was only a few months ago that Public Works Minister Juan Edghill had indicated that the Government is open to proposals for the Wismar to McKenzie Bridge. The bridge the Government intends to build would be a four lane one, able to facilitate the increased volume of traffic through Region 10. He has since reiterated that that invitation remains open. (G3)