… Parika Stelling, Wismar Bridge up for rehabGuyana’s vision to bridge the disparity between its hinterland and coastal regions was given a significant boost from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), which has injected some US$4.4 million into enhancing the local transportation sector and supporting the development of interior communities.According to a release from the Bank on Tuesday, its Board of Directors approved the funding, which will be used to finance feasibility studies and designs for the upgrade of the Lethem aerodrome (Region Nine); and the construction of a new bridge at Wismar (Region 10) and a new riverine transport terminal at Parika (Region Three).CDB’s Division Chief of the Economic Infrastructure Division, O’Reilly Lewis, underscored the importance of transportation infrastructure to a country’sParika Stelling is among the facilities to be upgradeddevelopment.“An effective transportation sector is essential for sustainable growth and development, as it connects people to the supply and distribution of goods. The proposed enhancements to the transportation sector in Guyana will cover road, air, and river transport, providing opportunities for business development and enhanced employment,” he posited.The selected sites are all considered to be priority areas for improvement by the Government of Guyana.The Mackenzie-Wismar Bridge was constructed 51 years ago, and comprises just one lane. On average, approximately 3000 vehicles cross the bridge daily, which results in traffic congestion. It is a major connection point between Georgetown and Upper Demerara, as well as to several interior locations and Brazil.Meanwhile, the Parika Stelling is the main hub for riverine transportation services between Parika and the neighbouring communities separated by the Essequibo River. It has deteriorated over time and is becoming a threat to public safety.Back in May, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had said that the intention was to completely rehabilitate the Parika Stelling with similar features to those of the Bartica Stelling. “It will have commercial space, a shed so that persons can go there and sell their produce; persons can also open a restaurant or two. It just wouldn’t have the opening that the Bartica Stelling has,” the Minister had explained.On the other hand, upgrading the Lethem aerodrome is expected to capitalise on current and future demand for travel between Northern Brazil, the Caribbean, Latin/South America and North America. It is also expected to facilitate the development and expansion of businesses and other economic activities in Region 10 (Upper Takutu-Essequibo).The project, to be implemented through the Public Infrastructure Ministry, will complement other CDB interventions, including ongoing work to improve sections of the road link from Linden to Lethem.In February of 2017, the Public Infrastructure Ministry had said it was gearing to commence construction of the first phase of the Linden-Lethem Road project, which will be funded with a $150 million grant from the United Kingdom Government through its £300 million Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF) programme that was announced by former British Prime Minister David Cameron back in 2015. Guyana was named among nine Caribbean countries to benefit from the grant, and identified the Linden-Lethem Road project as the beneficiary.The first phase of the project spans from Linden to Mabura, and covers approximately 122.5 kilometres of road and the construction of the bridge across the Essequibo River at Kurupukari ferry crossing.Meanwhile, the remaining 331.5km of the laterite road will fall under other phases and work will be undertaken through funding from other sources. Government is currently working with its Brazilian counterparts to source funding for the second phase.This US$4.4 million project is consistent with the CDB’s strategic objective of supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and development within its Borrowing Member Countries, as well as its corporate priorities of strengthening and modernising social and economic infrastructure, and promoting environmental sustainability.