Region 6 has what is needed for trans-border development – Head of State

…opens bridge to deep-water port

The formal opening of the first tangible aspect of the Berbice deep-water port being built by CGX Energy Inc took place on Friday when President Dr Irfaan Ali cut the ribbon to the access bridge at Seawell.
It has been one decade since talks have been ongoing about a deep-water harbour in Berbice. The project is pivotal to the development of Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and will bring the oil and gas industry with all its opportunities to fruition.

The Palmyra deep-water port site in Berbice

The President, during a brief ceremony at CGX logistics yard at Palmyra, explained that it was not only a case where development was being done in Region Six but rather in all 10 administrative regions.
The regional plans, he said, are a subset of the national development strategy and in Region Six the objective of the plan is to build sustainable communities.
“Sustainable communities with many different attributes. 1) sustainable jobs, 2) social services that are second to none and providing good services to the people – education, health, infrastructure, water and electricity. 3) Economic empowerment and opportunities; 4) reduce the disparity between the rich and not so rich but more importantly between gender and families.”
Referring to them as the fundamental elements of a sustainable humanity, the Head of State said his Government is building both a national and regional plan for sustainable development.
He said what is required countrywide is a total revamp of the infrastructure, noting that the type of expansion that will take place requires an infrastructure that is robust in order to advance those opportunities.
“So if we have the deep-water harbour in Region Six which is linked to Suriname and linked to other opportunities, the infrastructure must be in place to take care of this,” President Ali said.
He explained that Region Six has what is needed for trans-border development. It is on this note he explained that a summit between neighbouring Suriname, Brazil and French Guyana will be held in January, adding that France wants to be part of the discussions.
“We will be discussing the creation of an energy hub for these countries. We will be discussing a joint gas strategy between Guyana and Suriname. The gas is not only linked to the production of power or energy.”
He pointed out that one of the largest deposits of ‘A’ grade bauxite is in Region Six. With cheaper electricity, President Ali noted that it will be economically viable to develop a smelter plant on the Corentyne.
“Smelter then leads to an aluminium plant and an aluminium plant leads the constant work and justification for a deep-water port that will be of the size and magnitude that we cannot even imagine,” President Ali disclosed.
Referring to the investment by CGX Inc, the Head of State pointed out that not only is it an infrastructural development at the highest scale of service delivery, but it is one that will see containerised traffic, direct export of grains, and one which will immediately reduce the cost of transport and logistics.”
He pointed out that while all of this is taking place, the Government is aligning strategic and important initiatives for Region Six. One such initiative which he pointed out is the construction of a call centre building which will be run by the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT).
“We are already in advanced stages of negotiating with the service provider to operate that call centre that would create at least 500 new jobs in this region.”
He then pointed out that the region will receive tremendous benefits from the Private Sector as the jobs will add, monthly, some $30 million in additional disposable income.
He also pointed out that the housing programme will see over 500 persons being employed as the Housing Ministry in its first phase will be constructing 100 houses. He also pointed out that there has been a recreation of jobs in the sugar sector and as it relates to agricultural diversification, President Ali said much focus is being placed on the swamp shrimp which has a huge market in the diaspora.
“In Georgetown, they call it red belly shrimp. It carries a niche market in the diaspora and what we found is that we could not even supply 20 per cent of that market. So the Government immediately embarked on a programme to collaborate with a person in the agricultural sector by providing machinery and technical support for the expansion of production.”
Initially, the programme was being done along the East Coast Berbice and the Corentyne but it will now be expanded to Mara on the East Bank of Berbice.
He said the aim is to create an aquaculture industry in Region Six which will be global in nature.
“Globally the natural habitat for fishing is shrinking because of overfishing and climate change. But we are not sitting back and doing nothing about it we are ensuring that we are a step ahead by making the investment to create an aquaculture industry. In the Black Bush Polder, we have supported the building of an agro-processing facility there. They are now going to take the excess production of pepper and other vegetables from Black Bush Polder and package it for the Caricom, European, Canadian and US markets.”
President Ali pointed out that discussions are currently underway for the production of industrial hemp.
While noting that US$50 million will be invested at Enmore in the dairy industry for the processing of milk and production of yogurt, along with other milk products, President Ali pointed out that a very important part of the project requires Government stimulation.
“We have to now come to the farmers to rebuild the dairy industry because we have to bring together enough farmers on a 5000-acre development programme so as to produce the milk,” he further disclosed.
Also attending the event on Friday were Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Mark Berman; Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh; and Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar. (Andrew Carmichael)