Work starts on Berbice River Bridge November 1

By Wendella Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
April 5, 2000

CONSTRUCTION activities on the site of the long-awaited bridge across the Berbice River are due to start November 1, this year, Minister of Hydraulics and Transport, Mr Anthony Xavier announced yesterday.

The bridge will be completed no later than October 31, 2002, a confident Minister Xavier told the National Assembly.

He said the Central Tender Board on February 22, last, received proposals from five firms/consortia of the 14 that had expressed interest in building the bridge.

In December last year, all 14 firms/consortia were invited to submit proposals to the board, he explained.

In July last year, expressions of interest were invited by public advertisements for planning, designing, financing, construction, operation and maintenance of a bridge across the Berbice River, using a build, operate and transfer (BOT) approach.

Xavier's announcement during debate on this year's budget yesterday, was in response to an earlier comment by People's National Congress (PNC) parliamentarian, Mr Kadim `Kads' Khan, on the Berbice River Bridge.

Khan had said that an announcement that bids will be invited shortly for constructing the bridge was a welcome development.

He added that the "embracing of good ideas, like this project out of the Guyana 21 plan, which is endorsed by the PNC, is a good sign."

Khan, however, called on the government to ensure that a proper feasibility study is done; that the best skills available be sought; that there be a transparent Tender Board process and that all Guyanese must have an equal opportunity for participation.

He remarked that "Berbicians should not be given a run for their money, as had been done to Essequibians, with their coast road", an obvious reference to the prolonged delays in completing the main road on the Essequibo Coast.

Wondering whether the bridge can be completed in the suggested timeframe, the PNC Member of Parliament (MP) advised his colleagues in the Government benches, "Don't make promises you can't fulfill...don't raise people's expectations of people, only to disappoint them, otherwise it will backfire."

The government has secured a loan of US$11M from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for bridging the Berbice River, which is estimated to cost overall between US$30M and US$35M.

An engineer in the Ministry of Surface Transport in India was also made available to Guyana to undertake a pre-feasibility study on the bridge project.

The Government of Guyana has said that a bridge over the river will provide economic benefits to the country and will save travelling time.

Berbicians have long been calling for a bridge over the river to cut hassles from using the ferry boat service.