Some 40 int’l companies submitted EoIs for new DHB
– Minister Edghill says Govt looking to deliver by 2024
With over a month to go before the deadline, some 40 companies from around the world have already expressed interest in designing and constructing the new Demerara River crossing.
Last month, the Guyana Government invited Expressions of Interest (EoIs) for the prequalification process for the design-build of the new bridge across the Demerara River.
Government is looking to construct a four-lane, high-span fixed bridge from Nandy Park, East Bank Demerara, to La Grange, West Bank Demerara.
According to Public Works Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill, “…because we have gone out for Expressions of Interest and request of proposals, we have had 40 or thereabout international companies expressing interest, registering, paying for their bid documents and many of them already signed their Non-Disclosure Agreements, which give them access to information to prepare their proposals.”
Minister Edghill made this disclosure during an appearance on NCN’s televised programme – “Insight”. He noted that this interest from around the world spans the United States, France, Holland, Trinidad and Tobago, China and Brazil.
“People around the world, because of our approach to development, have shown interest. We anticipate that when we close those bids and there is an evaluation, we can have a contractor engaged and we hope to deliver this bridge 2023-end, 2024-mid because we want the people to get the new bridge,” the Public Works Minister asserted.
In its advertisement for EoIs, Government said the new design of the Demerara Harbour Bridge will not require opening or retraction to allow for maritime traffic and will be built with a life span of at least 50 years. All EoIs for the new bridge are to be submitted to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) by 14:000h on December 4, 2020.
Last month, Minister Edghill had accompanied President Irfaan Ali on a tour of the proposed landing sites for the new Demerara River bridge on the East Bank of Demerara.
During the walkabout, President Ali visited two locations – one in the vicinity of Windsor Estates and the other at Peters Hall, EBD. It is understood that Peters Hall is the eastern end of the proposed landing site for the bridge and a road will be laid from the bridge and through Nandy Park.
“This bridge will have various interconnections and this [is] one of the interconnections… The main interconnection. There will be at least four other feeder roads, linked to the new highway [the Ogle-Eccles Bypass Road]. So, the flow of traffic will be in a circular motion, connecting with the East Coast, East Bank, Georgetown and then moving further on to the Linden-Soesdyke Highway,” Ali, whose PhD is in Urban and Regional Planning, explained.
Meanwhile, Minister Edghill had noted that the construction of the bridge will be interconnected with the Ogle bypass road. He also explained why it was necessary to visit the housing scheme and its connection to the bridge.
“I know some people might be wondering why we’re at the back here when the bridge is located across the river. Because of where the channel is located in the Demerara River, closer to the eastern side with a five per cent degree grade, we need about 4000 feet to get a proper gradient exiting off the bridge to be able to get the turnout. So, we have to be able to create room here and we have adequate room. We’ve walked the alignment,” he had stated
The Minister had further pointed out that the flyover is expected to be about 50 metres high at minimum or “as high as or higher than the Marriott Hotel” to allow for marine vessels to pass without any interruptions of vehicular traffic. As such, he noted that vast lands would be required on both landing sides of the bridge in order to to get the necessary gradient.
“Bear in mind this is a very high fixed bridge. It will be a flyover. On the western end of the bridge, the alignment is near to where the current bridge is, all that area next to the field [Joe Vieira Ground] and some more. On this side [the east] it ends in the vicinity of a koker/sluice] near a reserve. But because it has to have a gradient and the channels are nearer to the eastern side, we have to find 4000 feet,” he had noted.
The construction of the new bridge will be a timely one, as the East Bank is notorious for its heavy traffic congestions due to the current retractable bridge. Floating at 1.25 mile, the Demerara Harbour Bridge is a strategic link between the East and West Bank of Demerara. It facilitates the daily movement of thousands of vehicles, people, and cargo. The structure was built in the 1970s but was opened in July 1978 with the expectation of lasting only 10 years. However, some 42 years after, it is still floating.
The former APNU/AFC Administration was originally going to go with another retractable, three-lane design but after immense criticism had switched to a fixed, four-lane proposal.
Not long after it took office in 2015, the APNU/AFC Government engaged in efforts to have a feasibility study for the project. However, the awarding of that contract was marred in controversy, with the Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, pointing to major breaches of Guyana’s financial laws.
The Public Procurement Commission (PPC) had subsequently flagged former Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson for requesting from the then Cabinet that the feasibility contract be sole-sourced instead of being processed through the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
The PPC had found that after the bidding process was annulled because of non-responsive bidders, NPTAB had approved for the project to be re-tendered. But instead, Dutch company LievenseCSO was handpicked by the Public Infrastructure Ministry to conduct the study.
A probe was also conducted by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) into the awarding of the $146 million sole-sourced contract, with Patterson even submitting a statement to investigators.