Sitting on South America's North Atlantic coast, Guyana – meaning the Land of Many Waters – is undergoing one of the most significant infrastructure transformations since its independence in 1970.
In recent years, the government has made it a priority to improve the country's transportation infrastructure, with a focus on upgrading roads and highways, as part of its efforts to boost economic growth and competitiveness.
The Ministry of Public Works is at the epicenter of these engineering and technical changes. Its key responsibilities, among others, include the planning, creation, and maintenance of major public civil works infrastructure throughout Guyana.
Central to its success is the Ministry's mandate to oversee a reliable, safe, efficient and cost-effective road network and sea and river defence system to protect life and property, promote economic growth and quality of life, and protect the environment.
Amaila Falls Hydropower Station
One of the most exciting and long-anticipated projects on the Ministry's watch is to realize the development of a 165MW Amaila Falls hydropower project. First tabled in 2013, the project envisions a dam to generate electricity for the national grid and existing large mining operations, with future expansion capacity to power major industrial growth projects within Guyana.
Amaila Falls is located on the Kuribrong River, a tributary of the Potaro River in west-central Guyana. The river drops over Amaila Falls at a height of 60m, continues in a series of rapids, and falls for almost two miles before reaching placid water at an elevation of 175 feet. Waterfall has formed on the sandstones and conglomerates of the Roraima Formation.
The project has stalled for various reasons over the last decade. The latest in 2021, China Railways landed the project, but rather than pursue a build-own-operate-transfer contract, requested an EPC-style approach, the deal was dropped.
However, in 2023, the Government reissued a call for proposals to develop the hydro project. This follows potential interest from a clutch of foreign companies from Brazil, Austria, and several from Korea.
Renewed Government interest rests on the fact that the country's power grid is grappling with growing consumption due to high temperatures and the growth of the housing and commercial sectors.
Ministry's Current Projects
The Government's sea defence program is a robust and proactive approach to ensuring that coastal and river-based residents and farmers are protected from the threats of climate change.
The strategy seeks construction, rehabilitation and maintenance works on such structures nationwide. In 2023, $4.9 billion was set aside for these initiatives.
The Ministry is embarking on maintaining sea and river structures in Regions Three, Four, Five and Six, with work estimated at $198.2 million. One of the key projects is to fund boulder face protection works for the river defence structure at Bendorff, Wakenaam Island, in Region Three.
Works are also slated for Good Success and Palmyra in Wakenaam, Kingston, and Richmond Hill in Leguan. These include incorporating timber revetment along the earthen embankments at an estimated cost of $54.6 million.
Other related projects include $13.75 million allocated for the incorporation of a gabion mattress rock slope along the earthen embankment at Thierens, Leguan Island. The earthen embankment along Queta Bena Island is also set for maintenance.
The Government is continuing to oversee infrastructural transformation on the East Coast of Demerara with the expansion of the roadways. Phase two of the East Coast Road Project is moving steadily apace.
Contractors are executing drainage construction works along the railway embankment between Mon Repos and Annandale. These works entail clearing and digging the roadside shoulder and excavating the new drainage construction.
The East Coast Demerara Public Widening and Improvement Project, being executed by China Railway First Group, sees the extension of the railway embankment road into four lanes from Sheriff Street to Enmore and the construction of a four-lane road to Orange Nassau, Mahaica.
The $192 million project, which is set for completion by 2024, also entails the construction of 48 bridges and 22 culverts, in addition to a bridge across the Hope Canal. It is aimed to significantly enhance connectivity along the stretch and facilitate ease in traffic congestion while promoting easier commuting and investments through improved accessibility.
The Ministry of Public Works also oversees a significant roads upgrade with eight nominated contractors across Guyana's diverse communities at a cost of $1.5 billion.
Among the major road works targeted is the construction of the Moleson Creek to El Dorado Road in Region Six. The road, which is currently a mud dam, will be upgraded to laterite, and later to asphaltic concrete at a length of 2500 meters and 7.2 meters wide.
Other contracts include the rehabilitation/construction of Cane Grove Phase Three and the construction of No.58 Village Road. In Region Seven, the rehabilitation of the Itaballi to Puruni road, and the Bartica Potaro Road has also been confirmed.
The Ministry is also overseeing a $400 million construction project in Region Six, which incorporates the construction of the New Amsterdam to Moleson Creek Corentyne four-lane highway expansion.
Over US$100 million has been budgeted for the project this year, which will see upgrading and widening works commencing on the Palmyra to Crabwood Creek section of the carriageway.
The development of the roadway is one of a host of other billion-dollar projects ongoing and part of the Government's master plan for infrastructural and social development in the region.
The Corentyne Highway expansion project is one being done under the Ministry of Public Works, with some $27.7 billion having been allocated in Budget 2023 to advance works. Contracts were awarded for widening the structures along the carriageway to accommodate the four-lane highway and to relocate the utilities.
The project is part of the Government's commitment to linking our major urban, rural and hinterland communities to provide accessible, safe and reliable access and commute. The highway is being upgraded in anticipation of increased vehicular traffic expected in the coming years due to the planned Suriname to Guyana Corentyne River Bridge.
Strategic Partners And Suppliers
The Ministry of Public Works has a globally respected procurement process, which also reflects its vision to see contractors employ locally-based staff and companies.
Reflecting this, the Ministry's recent contracts include Beston Consulting Inc Consultancy Services for The Engineering Services for The East Coast Demerara Public Widening and Improvement Project Phase 2 - Annandale to Mahaica/Sherriff Street to Orange Nassau (Design & Build);
M & B Construction Construction of Sea and River Structures within Region No. 2,3,4,5,6 and 10 and RK's Guyana's Security Services Provision of Site Security Services for MOPW 2021-2022 Lot 1-3
Adamantium Holdings Rehabilitation of Hinterland Road has been contracted for Lots 13- Rehabilitation of Itaballi to Puruni Road, Lot 14- Rehabilitation of Bartica Potaro Road, while Aronco Services Inc Lot 9: Rehabilitation of Canal Polder No 1 Main Access Road Canal Polder, Lot 10: Rehabilitation of Canal Polder No 2 Main Access Road Canal Polder
JS Guyana Inc. (Junior Sammy group) has secured deals for the construction of sea and river structures within Region No. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10. MP Insurance Brokers & Consultants Ltd has been retained for the provision of insurance services (All Risk of Physical Loss and Damage).
SRKN'gineering & IT Transport Ltd are contracted for consultancy services for road safety diagnostic and action plans.
Kallco Guyana Inc Lot 8: Widening of Corridor- Conversation Tree to Dennis Street- Exit Sheriff Street- Connector 1, Lot 8(B): Widening of Corridor- Conversation Tree to Dennis Street- Exit Sheriff Street- New Connector. The GuyAmerica Construction has responsibility for the construction of No.58 Village Road.
The Ministry of Public Works should be credited for the many projects that are helping to improve connectivity, transportation, and socio-economic benefits for the Guyanese community. These include hinterland regions through road construction or rehabilitation.
By targeting local roads and handling regional and national eye-catching projects, the Ministry is taking a balanced approach to ensure the prosperity and safety of its citizens at the foremost of its projects.
The construction of these new roads and highways has created a significant demand for construction materials, equipment, and labor, leading to the growth of the construction industry in Guyana. The sector has also attracted the attention of international investors, who are eager to participate in the development of the country's infrastructure and capitalize on the growth opportunities.
It is expected that the construction of roads and highways will continue to be a major contributor to the growth of the Guyanese economy in the coming years. The government has announced plans to invest heavily in the country's transportation infrastructure, and private investment is also expected to increase, as more investors recognize the market’s potential.
The growing economy and increasing tourism are expected to drive demand for new roads and highways, as they will facilitate easier access to tourist destinations and provide a more efficient transportation network for businesses and tourists alike.
Encompassing the core values of integrity, efficiency, teamwork and commitment, the Public Works Ministry is on a collective mission to deliver for future generations.
In conclusion, the Ministry of Public Works in Guyana stands at the forefront of a transformative era, propelling forward-looking infrastructural projects that are redefining the nation's connectivity and economic potential. With a laser focus on elevating roadways, fortifying sea defenses, and advancing the monumental Amaila Falls Hydropower Station, the Ministry is not just securing the present but is shaping a dynamic future brimming with opportunity. As Guyana's oil & gas sector gathers momentum, the Ministry's strategic initiatives will seamlessly integrate with this burgeoning industry, becoming a driving force for its expansion. This synergy promises an era of unprecedented growth, unlocking the full potential of our nation's resources.
Anticipating a surge in population growth as a direct consequence of the oil & gas sector's ascent, the Ministry is poised to meet the evolving needs of an expanding populace. By fortifying transportation networks and strengthening crucial sea and river defenses, the Ministry is proactively preparing for the vibrancy and dynamism that accompanies rapid growth. This vision not only ensures the smooth flow of goods, services, and people, but also underscores the Ministry's commitment to a sustainable, forward-looking urban landscape.
As Guyana's economy undergoes a remarkable transformation, driven by a burgeoning construction sector and the enthusiastic arrival of international investors, the Ministry's contributions are nothing short of pivotal. The vision of the Suriname-Guyana Corentyne River Bridge, alongside other monumental projects, is set to propel Guyana into an era of unparalleled economic vitality. In doing so, the Ministry of Public Works is not merely building infrastructure; it is constructing a foundation for a future that brims with promise, embodying the values of integrity, efficiency, teamwork, and a boundless commitment to progress. The legacy of these endeavors will resonate through the generations, a testament to the limitless possibilities that lie ahead.