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Current pace of works on Linden-Mabura road not satisfactory – PS

Linden to Mabura Road Project: 3km surface covered [Photo released on October 10, 2023]

As construction continues on the US$190 million Linden to Mabura Hill road, Permanent Secretary of the Public Works Ministry, Vladim Persaud, has admitted that the Government is not satisfied with the current pace of works.

It was revealed recently that just over two kilometres of asphaltic road works had been completed on the Linden to Mabura Hill road. This section of the road, which is supposed to eventually reach 121 kilometres, is being upgraded by Brazilian construction firm Construtora Queiroz Galvao SA.

During a recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting, the Public Works Ministry Permanent Secretary was asked by the committee if Government is satisfied with the pace of work on the road.

“The Ministry could never be satisfied with contractors, especially a large firm of this size, who have had experience of working in conditions similar to this, at their current pace. We’ve had several meetings, both at the level of my Minister as well as our level. Definitely we’re not satisfied.”

“The company should be moving at a faster pace. Not only to cater for the catch up that they need to, but also to be able to move way ahead in terms of being able to meet the agreed timeline for completion. That’s something we will enforce accordingly as per the contractual management of the contract,” Persaud told the PAC.

Behind schedule

The Permanent Secretary confirmed that the Brazilian firm is a bit behind schedule and related the reason for this. He explained that the company is making efforts to incorporate a new sub-base material that will be weather-resistant.

“They are a little bit behind schedule, simply because of one real issue and they had to look at the redesign to allow for a new sub-base material that would allow them to not only increase their work that has been done, which we’re now seeing some progress.”

“(But) to allow the new sub-base material that they’re going to be using, which is more weather-resistant in the sense that they’ve catered for a new mix. So that even if we had heavy rainfall, etc, it should not slow down the pace at which they’re working,” Persaud said.

Traversing sections of the Linden to Lethem road has been a nightmare for heavily laden lorries over the past few years, with many toppling off the roadway. The bridges are even worse. Some vehicle operators would have to align the boards before attempting to cross. They do not always make it over safely.

The US$190 million contract for the road was signed in May 2022 with Brazilian company Construtora Queiroz Galvao SA for the construction of the 121-kilometre road. The project is being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) via a US$112 million loan, a grant to the tune of £50 million (US$66 million) from the United Kingdom under the Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (CIPF), and an input of US$12 million from the Guyana Government.

This is the largest grant Guyana has ever received from the Government of the UK.
With a 7.2-metre-wide carriageway, the Linden to Mabura road is expected to feature a cycle and pedestrian lane measuring 2 metres wide, along with 10 bus stops outfitted with ramps for persons with disabilities.

Additionally, a number of bridges and culverts along the way will be replaced, and some 123 lights would be installed. In its commitment to this project, the Dr Irfaan Ali-led Administration had set aside some $3.19 billion in the 2022 budget for the construction of 32 bridges between Kurupukari and Lethem along the Linden to Lethem trail. This leg of the project is expected to last for three years.