New Schoonord to Crane four-lane highway to be completed by June 2024 – Pres Ali

– lauds citizens who gave up private lands to make way for the new highway

Works are moving aggressively on the new four-lane highway in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) that will connect Schoonord on the West Bank of Demerara (WBD) to Crane on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD), and it is expected that the project will be completed by mid-2024.
This is according to President Dr Irfaan Ali during a visit to inspect ongoing works at the West Coast end of the project on Thursday evening. The Head of State was at the time accompanied by several Cabinet Ministers and other Government officials who had engaged residents of several communities in the region earlier.
In September 2022, some $11.8 billion in contracts were signed for the construction of the Schoonord to Crane four-lane highway – a project that is part of a much larger initiative to establish a secondary road link to Parika, East Bank Essequibo (EBE).
However, President Ali explained the importance of this phase of the project, noting that it is “urgently required” for commuters who traverse the current roadway and are faced with heavy traffic daily.
“So the first phase was to get to this area… because from Crane to the [Demerara] Harbour Bridge is where the bulk of the traffic backs up in the mornings – taking some persons three to four hours to get to work in Georgetown. So, this will bring tremendous ease. We’re hoping by early next year – by June next year that this new four-lane highway will be completed – connecting Crane to Schoonord,” he stated.
However, the Head of State noted that while the contractors are working aggressively to bring this project to fruition, they are encountering challenges such as getting the sand across the current Demerara Harbour Bridge, which has weight limits.
Nevertheless, sand-filling works have commenced on the West Coast end of the project, while works are also ongoing on the West Bank.
The Government has had to obtain private lands from citizens to complete this project – something which President Ali lauded.
“A few months ago, this was all rice fields and now you are starting to see all the transformation that is taking place… Persons here gave up lands because of this development – legal lands, supporting national development. This is the type of spirit and collaboration we need in this period of transformation in our country. Of course, there were joint meetings with the Government and compromises [were made],” the Head of State noted.
This remark comes on the heels of the Eccles to Great Diamond four-lane highway project on the East Bank of Demerara being stalled after some squatters at the Mocha/Cane View area have been refusing to relocate and making unreasonable demands. The Government’s offer of either a house lot or a new pre-built home along with monetary compensation, and farmlands for those who farm, have all been rejected by a handful of persons.
However, the Housing Ministry recently removed all the illegal structures from the Government reverses at the Mocha/Cane View area with the aim of moving ahead with the road project that has been left stalled due to this issue.
Nevertheless, this $11.8B four-lane highway from Schoonord to Crane will be a modern road with features that will allow for easy and free flow of traffic at both ends. These include two roundabouts, 11 reinforced concrete box culverts, 36 pre-stressed bridges, and road signage and markings.
The project was awarded to eight contractors – VR Construction Inc, Avinash Contracting & Scrap Metal Inc, L-Heureuse Construction and Services Inc, GuyAmerica Construction Inc, AJM Enterprise, Vals Construction, Puran Bros Disposal Inc, and JS Guyana Inc.
According to President Ali, it is expected that by December of this year, all the preliminary works would be completed along the entire highway and paving/capping of the new road will commence in order to meet the 2024 mid-year deadline.
This corridor is one of the major transformative projects being undertaken in Region Three and will be connected, at Schoonord, to the new bridge across the Demerara River that will be starting soon. With the highway extending all the way to Parika, it will open up new lands for housing and commercial developments in the region as well.
In his Budget 2023 presentation earlier this week, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh disclosed that the Crane to Parika phase of the project is currently under review, and works are expected to commence later this year.
According to President Ali on Thursday, Region Three is pegged for unprecedented development in the coming years.
“So, Region Three is one of the regions in which not only are we having a great population push because of the housing development but the type of industrial development and development connected to the oil and gas sector are also taking effect in this region. And with the Gas-to-Shore project… West of here is where the [pipeline for the] Gas-to-Shore project will come onshore and continue all the way to Wales, where the power plant and the liquid plant and the whole industrial manufacturing development will be,” he posited.