Infrastructure development opens up opportunities for Guyanese in agriculture, housing – Edghill

…rebuts Duncan’s lack of confidence in work programme

Public Works Minister Juan Edghill on Thursday pointed out that the development of infrastructure across Guyana paves the way for a host of opportunities for Guyanese to benefit from, particularly in the agriculture and housing sectors.
He made this remark during his contributions to the ongoing debates on Budget 2022 in the National Assembly, during which he defended the $76.7 billion allocated for roads and bridges under his Ministry.
“The infrastructure programme of Guyana and the investments that we are making in infrastructure are not just brick, loam, sand, concrete and asphalt; it’s opportunities that lead to prosperity for the people of Guyana,” Minister Edghill asserted.

Public Works Minister Juan Edghill

Responding to a comment made an APNU+AFC Opposition Member of Parliament who claimed that people cannot eat roads, the Public Works Minister agreed, but added that the roads that are being built and rehabilitated would help people to eat.
“When we invest and we put the roads – whether they are hinterland roads or urban roads, or farm-to-market access roads, or we open up super highways – these are not roads that are just leading to a destination,” he contended.
According to Minister Edghill, the Government’s investments in roads and bridges open up opportunities in a number of areas. This, he highlighted, would be demonstrated in the new super-highway from Schoonord, West Bank Demerara to Parika, East Bank Essequibo.
“While the road starts at Schoonord and ends at Parika, it opens up opportunities… opportunities for housing, opportunities for farming. We have given incentives to large-scale plantation agriculture, [and] those roads open up those opportunities,” he said.
“When we build all of the 32 bridges from Kurupukari to Lethem, we are not just pouring concrete and steel and putting in on earth; we are making a corridor open to move to the next leg of linking Linden with Lethem, which essentially is opening up tens of millions of people in a new market in northern Brazil. The road is opening up so people can eat,” the Minister stated.
Similarly, he pointed out that investment in the Number 58 Village Road, which would link the Corentyne highway in Berbice with the Canje Creek, would also benefit farmers in those areas.

Opposition MP Sherod Duncan

“The sons of the farmers could now get their own lands. The grandsons of those who farm there could get their own lands. We’re opening up new lands,” Minister Edghill added.
He further posited that the Government’s investments in infrastructure also target tourism development and agricultural sustainability. In regard to the latter, the Public Works Minister stated that the $5 billion allocated for river and sea defence is not just about boulders and riprap sea defence.
“We are thinking about the thousands of farmers who plant cash crops, rice, sugar [and] the poultry farmers, cattle farmers. They have to be able to carry on their trade, so we have to be able to keep the sea out. So, we are making the investment to secure agriculture. So, you can’t eat the stones on the sea defence, but because we put it there, people can eat,” he contended.
Meanwhile, prior to Minister Edghill’s presentation, Opposition Member of Parliament Sherod Duncan expressed his lack of confidence in the Public Works Ministry’s lavish infrastructure plans outlined in Budget 2022.
“$76.7 billion for roads and bridges, [but] based on the track record on the two previous budgets and the dreams deferred, there is little hope that this will be done,” Duncan asserted.
In response, the Public Works Minister detailed the works done over the past year, including the rehabilitation and maintenance of some 517 kilometres of road spanning Georgetown, Timehri and the Corentyne.
“We have done in excess of 300 kilometres of community roads. We have had to respond to emergencies, the bridge that collapsed at Hogg Street (Albouystown)… We fixed the bridge in New Amsterdam at Glasgow, we fixed the bridge at Dennis Street – all emergency works, and we went on to fix a number of community bridges. We’ve also installed more than 700 street lights, covering a 30-kilometres area,” the Minister noted.
Edghill further stated that his Ministry’s infrastructural development agenda also saw the construction of pedestrian walkways along critical roadways across Guyana, as well as all-weather roads.
Further, the Public Works Minister reassured that the $88 billion allocated to his Ministry would be used prudently. In the same breath, he called on all stakeholders to play their part in ensuring that every project being executed across the country is done correctly.