Govt to sign contract today to construct new DHB

The contract for the construction of a new Demerara River Bridge will be signed today at its Providence location, according to the Public Works Ministry.

An artist’s impression of the new DHB

Back in November, Cabinet granted its no-objection for China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd to construct the bridge at a proposed cost of US$256.6 million. The contract was awarded based on a Design-Build-Finance (DBF) model with financial terms and conditions which would be no less favourable than those submitted in the preferred bidder’s price proposals.
The new bridge will offer easy connectivity to both the existing East Bank Demerara (EBD) road as well as the new Diamond-to-Ogle bypass road on the eastern side of the river and to the existing West Bank Demerara road and the new Parika-to-Schoonord road on the western side of the river.
The new bridge will also offer critical connectivity to the new Wales Development Authority, which will be a major centre of productive activity when it comes onstream. This new bridge across the Demerara River will be a high-fixed span one with a 50-metre flyover at minimum or “as high as, or higher than, the Marriott Hotel” to allow for marine vessels to pass without any interruption to vehicular traffic.
As such, the bridge would land aback Nandy Park on the EBD and at La Grange, West Bank Demerara, from where an alternative highway would be constructed all the way to Parika, East Bank Essequibo.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had waived the requirements for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the new Demerara River bridge – a process that followed the EPA Act and also its authorisation process.
In addition to reduced travel time, the project will see greater economic activity, greater accessibility for new housing opportunities, expansion of the manufacturing sectors – which will be able to operate freely on the West Side and not be limited to the Georgetown and EBD areas, unhindered marine traffic, and swifter movement of cargo, and the expansion of the Demerara waterfront, since marine traffic will no longer be encumbered in any way whatsoever.
Floating at 1.25 miles, the current Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) is a strategic link between the East and West Banks of Demerara, facilitating the daily movement of thousands of vehicles, people, and cargo.
The former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration was originally going to build another retractable, three-lane bridge, but after immense criticism, had switched to a fixed, four-lane model.
However, the awarding of the $146 million contract to have a feasibility study done for the project was marred in controversy, with Auditor General Deodat Sharma pointing to major breaches of Guyana’s financial laws.