New Demerara Crossing hidden costs to run in billions – analyst

…country will have to build another bridge in 10 years – consultants

The US$170 million price tag tentatively being flouted for the construction of a New Demerara River Crossing does not include money for the completion of several kilometres of a new road network that the bridge will require, an amount analysts have pegged to reach in the billions.

An artist’s impression of the new Demerara harbour bridge

The hidden price tag is addressed briefly in the report into the feasibility of constructing the New Demerara River Crossing—LievenseCSO.
The Dutch consultants, in the recently completed $146 million feasibility report, noted: “Project costs of the low three lane bridge at Houston – Versailles are estimated at US$150 million, including contractors cost and additional costs for services, land acquisition for the approach roads, and limited budget for a first phase of link roads.”
The US$150 million projected cost cited is minus the financing costs, which have been estimated by the consultants to take the entire project to US$170 million; but this does not include the cost of the new read network.
The consultants have also identified the need for new links from the bridge to town, as well as from the bridge to the west — bypassing Vreed-en-Hoop — to relieve the East and West Bank public roads from traffic.
The cost of this, however, is not included in the projected cost of the bridge, which means the administration will have to construct the accompanying road network separate and apart from the Bridge in order to use the facility, else the new Demerara River Crossing will essentially be useless.
The Dutch consultants have found, too, that in order to reduce the traffic congestion, the bridge is only a part of the problem.
“The city road network has to be improved and extended to serve the present and future traffic demand…The existing bank roads need to be relieved, in addition the East Bank Public Road shall be relieved from the traffic from Diamond and more south by realizing the bypass road now under preparation between Diamond and Ogle.”
The New Demerara River Crossing, in addition to replacing the outdated Demerara Harbour Bridge, is geared at reducing the traffic congestion; but based on projections by the Dutch consultants, the administration will—a few years after the completion of the proposed bridge—be required to construct another bridge.
According to the consultants, the traffic forecast indicates the proposed measures will suffice to mitigate the traffic until about the year 2030.
“At that time the road system is expected to become saturated again… New investments will be required, like a second bridge as well as extension of the city road network.”
As such, “It is recommended to shift this moment backwards in time by promoting alternative transport modalities (speed-boats and public transport) in order to reduce the traffic demand for the road system.”
Efforts to contact Ministers of Public Infrastructure David Patterson and Annette Ferguson, or Ministers of Finance Winston Jordan and Jaipaul Sharma, proved futile, as all calls from Guyana Times to their personal mobile telephones went unanswered.
This past week, the hidden costs associated with the new river crossing were explored by Financial Analyst Peter Ramsaroop — the economic advisor to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.
During an interview with this publication this past week, Dr Ramsaroop revealed that given the hidden costs associated with the construction of the New Bridge, the required sums of money will have to be diverted away from the ailing sugar industry.
Dr Ramsaroop at the time surmised increases, since in all of the financial models that have been presented to this Administration by their consultants, it repeatedly dismisses them as not viable, given the US$170 million price tag for the bridge alone… Each of the models proposed requires an untold amount of Government support.”
The financial analyst said, “These people are smart in a way, because the report speaks to a construction cost of US$150 million, with additional financing such as interest during construction; and in all of the designs, there are mass expanses of road networks that are not optional.”
He is of the firm belief that the true costs of this project have not even been laid out in the report, since there is no reference to the actual cost of the accompanying elevated road network and ancillary structures.