Critical roads along Guyana’s coast get much needed rehabilitation
The bridges and culverts that span the many drains and canals that cut across the major highways in Guyana’s coastal plain are being rehabilitated in a program to improve the quality of the country’s road network and reduce travel time and transport costs.
The Transport Infrastructure Rehabilitation Program is being financed by a $24.3 million loan extended from the IDB’s Fund for Special Operations in 2006.
Critical maintenance needs
Guyana’s 3,995 kilometer network serves a national fleet of about 80,000 vehicles. The six main national paved roads have two lanes except for four-lane segments along the East Bank and East Coast Demerara. The road network depends heavily on the reliability of the bridges and culverts that serve a dense system of drains, canals, and sluices along the coastal lowlands where most of the population lives. Building and maintaining this infrastructure have proven to be difficult and costly.
The country’s strategy in the transport sector is to reduce transportation costs and improve market access and competitiveness by constructing and maintaining its road network. The country is also restoring infrastructure to improve traveling conditions and road safety.
Responsibility for implementing this strategy is distributed among various agencies. The Ministry of Public Works and Communication (MPW&C) is responsible for transport policy and for construction and maintainance of almost all major transport infrastructures. The Ministries of Agriculture, Housing, Water, and Local Government construct and maintain some local road infrastructure. The Ministry of Home Affairs assumes regulatory functions regarding safety and security of transport services. The MPW&C’s Works Services Group (WSG), created in 2002 with IDB support, is charged with carrying out road infrastructure investment programs.
The IDB has had considerable experience in providing support to Guyana’s transport sector through projects to build and rehabilitate infrastructure and improve safety. Projects have included rehabilitation of bridges such as the East Bank Demerara, the East Coast Demerara, the Mahaica Rosignol, and the New Amsterdam-Moleson Creek roads. Bank financing has also been provided to strengthen the WSG, carry out maintenance through contracts with the private sector, and incorporate technical and design elements to keep projects on-schedule and improve the quality of road and bridge works.
The project in brief
The Transport Infrastructure Rehabilitation Program, which continues the IDB-financed Bridges Rehabilitation Program, is designed to rehabilitate infrastructure, improve safety, and carry out routine maintenance on the main road network with the aim of improving conditions along the main road network.
Along the 130 kilometer Timehri – Georgetown, Georgetown – Mahaica, and Mahaica – Rosignol highways, rehabilitation work includes replacement of 40 culvert structures with reinforced concrete box culverts and 11 culvert structures with high density polyethylene pipe. Seven existing culverts are being backfilled due to recent changes in drainage. Two pedestrian bridge-walkways are being integrated into existing bridges. Further work will be financed after a reassessment of the condition of additional culverts and other structures.
The program is also financing activities initiated under previous loans to improve safety in the main road segments. Included are pavement markings, bus stops, street lighting, sidewalks, drains, and barriers.
Financing for routine maintenance includes repairing small scale pavement distortions, shoulders, verges, drains, signs, and minor damages in structures. Maintenance of the main roads will increase their life expectancy and reduce future costs for rehabilitation or reconstruction. It will also improve vehicular gas mileage and prevent extra wear and tear on vehicles, thereby lowering maintenance costs.
In another program component, financing is being provided to rehabilitate the Black Bush Polder Road. The project includes surface treatment, correction of pavement geometry and leveling, and concrete overlays. Traffic safety measures include road marking, signing, and delineators.
The IDB’s partners
Three other donors have been active in Guyana’s road transportation sector: the World Bank, the European Commission (EC), and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The EC has financed a comprehensive national transportation study that recommended high priority for transport infrastructure maintenance. The CDB financed the upgrade of heavily congested sections of the main road network and the Linden-Soesdyke Highway.
Toward the future
At the end of program more than 50 road structures will have been rehabilitated along a 140 kilometers stretch of main road, road safety improvements along 326 kilometers of roads, and 35 kilometers of roads rehabilitated in a major rice producing area (rice being a main contributor to the country’s GDP).