Govt to sign US$150M loan with Saudi Arabia for construction of Wismar Bridge
…to also build 1000 homes for young professionals in Linden
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government will be signing a US$150 million loan with Saudi Arabia, to not only finance the construction of a new Wismar Bridge, but also the construction of 1000 young professional homes in Linden.
President Dr Irfaan Ali made this announcement while on the campaign trail in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice). He made reference to previous utterances from the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), who had cast doubts on the Wismar Bridge project.
“They doubted us. They stood up in Parliament and they said we are lying; the Wismar Bridge will not come. Do you remember that? On Monday, we will be signing with the Saudi Development Bank, the loan for the building of a four-lane bridge across Wismar,” the President said.
President Ali used the opportunity to urge Lindeners to vote their conscience and to vote based on who has the better plans and is more trustworthy in terms of what they can deliver. He pointed out the loan would also encompass the construction of 1000 young professional homes – turn-key homes the Government has been building aimed particularly at young professionals.
“So, when you vote on June 12, one more reason to ensure that this Government leads the way in the transformation of Region 10. I wonder what they will say on Monday. Because they stood up in Parliament and the naysayers said we will not do it. Well on Monday, glory be to thee. On Monday, we shall put ink on paper and we shall sign the loan for the Wismar Bridge.”
“And we shall sign for US$150 million for housing. And all of you in the construction sector will have to come forth as we build the 1000 houses for Linden for low-income families. And we want the builders, the carpenters, the masons, to be from Linden. We want it designed and built by Linden, with the PPP/C by your side,” he further said.
Meanwhile, President Ali met with a team from the Saudi Fund for Development led by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sultan Abdulrahman Al-Marshad, on Sunday. The team is here on a three-day visit, during which they will sign the two loan agreements.
Last month, the Guyana Government signed a US$150M Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Fund for Development to provide financing for initiatives in the housing sector as well as the Wismar Bridge project. The MoU was inked by Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, and the Sultan, while the Finance Minister was on an official visit to Saudi Arabia.
According to a statement from the Finance Ministry, the MoU covered infrastructural development works for the housing sector and the construction of the Wismar Bridge – both projects totalling US$150 million.
Earlier this year, Public Works Minister Juan Edghill had indicated that Government is open to proposals for the Mackenzie-to-Wismar Bridge. The bridge the Government intends to build is a four-lane one that is able to facilitate the increased volume of traffic through Region 10.
The current Wismar Bridge has only one vehicle lane and is over 50 years old. Back in 2020, Italian engineering company Politecnica had unveiled designs for a new bridge. The company had been contracted by the then Ministry of Public Infrastructure to do a feasibility study for the bridge.
With regards to housing and urban development, Government has been working assiduously to fulfil its manifesto promise of providing 10,000 house lots to citizens each year and it has been well on the way of achieving its 50,000 target this term, with over 20,000 delivered in its first two years in office. In Budget 2023, $54.5 billion was allocated for housing development in new and existing areas.
The State-owned Saudi Fund for Development finances development projects in developing countries by granting them the necessary loans, technical aids necessary for financing studies and institutional support.
Back in July 2022, a 60-person Saudi Arabian investor delegation, led by Deputy Minister for Investors Outreach, Badr Al Badr, visited Guyana to meet with local stakeholders and to explore potential areas for collaboration.