Sod turned for $1B shopping complex at Leonora

…amazing, transformative journey ahead for Region 3 –Ali

The construction of a state-of-the-art $1 billion shopping complex is slated to be the “apple” of the West Demerara region, which is already pegged for massive transformation in the coming years.
On Wednesday, the sod was turned for the construction of West Central Mall at Leonora, West Coast Demerara. The more than one acre land was formerly the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo’s) Senior Staff Compound.
In addition to a shopping mall, the facility will also have a gym, business centre, movie theatre, conference hall, fine-dining restaurant and bar, supermarket, arcade, food court, and adequate parking facility.
The US$5 million ($1 billion) project is being developed by Hemraj Albert and his family. It is expected to generate approximately 325 direct and indirect jobs when fully operational, which is in the next two years, as construction is expected to last 24 months.

An artist’s impression of West Central Mall

Having acquired the land two years ago, the Albert family from Meten-Meer-Zorg, WCD, pondered on various ideas regarding how to contribute to the development of Region Three (Essequibo Islands- West Demerara), and settled on the shopping complex – the first to be established in that region.

Achieving vision
Albert, who was in the retail business before founding Global Commercial Import and Transport, expressed delight at his visions now coming to fruition.
“Now I’m very happy that today is the commencement of this project. The hard work and dedication to my business over the past 30 years has led me to achieving this vision – West Central Mall,” he posted.
The businessman said he is looking forward to the support of not only the Government and regional administration as he embarks on this project, but also the support of the people in the region, who stand to benefit the most from the facility.
“I’m sure that this mall will bring some comfort and joy to the consumers, as we are going to ensure the highest quality of service,” Albert promised.

Transformative journey
Meanwhile, the businessman was lauded by President Dr Irfaan Ali, who attended the sod-turning ceremony in the community he grew up in, for investing in the development of the region, and the country by extension.
“We have a responsibility as Guyanese to promote the development of Guyana. I am not asking anyone to promote the development of a government or a political party. We have a responsibility as patriots, as Guyanese, to positively position the country every opportunity we have the chance to do so,” the President stated.
According to the Head of State, his Government is supportive of the private sector’s drive to lead the country’s growth and development. He noted that Government would fulfill its role in facilitating this drive.
President Ali further pointed out that with a growing population, Region Three is pegged for a massive housing drive, hence facilities such as the shopping mall would be needed. He added that investments such as these would also pave the way for other investments in other areas.
“Key to the development of this region is our infrastructure. Having transformative infrastructure that would lead to the opening up of new lands, transformative infrastructure that is linked to the opening up of new industries, transformative infrastructure that is link to the expansion of agriculture, that is linked to the creation of industrial estates, and this is what will take place in this region. A region that is traditionally known as an agricultural region would soon be diversified in such a way that Region Three will become the energy capital for Guyana,” he noted.
This, according to Ali, would be as a result of the gas-to- shore pipeline which would land at Wales, West Bank Demerara – an initiative that is already attracting private investments from the oil and gas sector in the region, which is expected to create thousands of jobs and open up opportunities for small and medium-size businesses.
On the infrastructure front, Government is currently working on the alignment of a new four-lane highway from West Bank Demerara to East Bank Essequibo. This new road would connect directly to the new Demerara River bridge – another major project that will added to the region’s transformation.
President Ali went on to outline that there are interests in the region’s hotel and hospitality sector. He added that a new commercial bank branch and a massive medium-to-upper-class scale housing community is also slated for West Demerara.
“We have an amazing journey ahead in this region. We have a transformative journey ahead, and I’m confident that your investment would bear fruit. I want to encourage the rest of the private sector to seek out the opportunities, and to be aggressive…The time has come for us to look beyond our traditional view of businesses in this country, individually-owned or family-owned, and to see how we can form consortiums and collectives to go after the larger scale-type of opportunities,” President Ali charged.
Against this backdrop, President Ali posited that he welcomes constructive criticisms and ideas to change the business environment and improve the systems of government, but, in the same breath, he cautioned persons against criticising the country to the extent of harming the investment climate in order to achieve narrow political gains.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of GO-Invest, Dr Peter Ramsaroop, along with Region Three Chairman Ishan Ayube and Chairman of the Region Three Chamber of Commerce all lauded the Albert family for undertaking this project that would not only transform the economy and landscape of the region, but would provide jobs for residents there. (G8)