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(GUYANA CHRONICLE) — Government on Friday unveiled a package of developmental projects for the township of Lethem and the entire Rupununi, which includes the construction of a US$4M international airport and major upgrades to the existing Linden-Lethem road before a paved highway is constructed.
These and other matters were ventilated when government ministers met with residents of Lethem as part of a ministerial outreach to the area.
Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, addressed the main concerns of residents at a meeting which he shared with Minister of Education Nicolette Henry.
Minister Henry spoke of improvements in the education sector, both nationally and in Region Nine. Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, highlighted progress made in the security sector. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, was also present at the meeting.
These ministers are part of a larger delegation who is on a massive ministerial outreach in the Rupununi district.
The residents were updated about interim plans to have the Linden to Lethem road repaired, while the long-term prospect of a paved road comes to fruition. He related that contracts are out to repair three sections of the road which are from Linden to Mabura, Kurupukari to Annai and Annai to Lethem.
While the section between Kurupukari to Annai falls under the Demerara Timbers concession, since it was a private road, the interest of the people is paramount and the government will be repairing that section. He also noted that another alternative old trail will be repaired as well, which will significantly decrease travelling time. This, he said, should be completed by the end of May.
As is already in the public’s domain, the Linden to Lethem asphalting will be completed in three phases; financing for the first phase, which is from Linden to Mabura, is already guaranteed through a $150M loan.
Patterson related to the audience that a consultancy is currently undergoing and the contract was awarded last November for the designing, which includes modification of the bridges and drains along the way.
“So we have made progress…don’t let the naysayers say that we have done nothing; in three years, we have done more to move this project from a dream that has been done in all the years since independence. We have actually secured the money, we have actually started the project,” he said.
In addition, the 2019 budget has made provision for $200M to upgrade the road from Linden to Rockstone.
As regards the internal roads in Lethem, residents were given equally good news that two contracts have been awarded for internal roads to be paved, as well as the commissioning of the Manari bypass which will be commissioned next month.
Slated for massive upgrade is the Lethem airport, which Patterson said will be transformed into an international airport.
The consultancy for this project has already been awarded and will be funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to the tune of US$4 million.
In the interim, the existing airstrip will be recapped, as the tender is already out for this project.
Minister Patterson highlighted that the provision of diesel to run the Lethem Power Company to provide electricity to a growing town, has become very costly. Therefore, a geo-technical study has commenced to resuscitate the Moco-Moco hydro- power plant, which was destroyed by a mudslide.
Coupled with this, Lethem will see a spanking new 1.5 megawatt solar farm, which will be funded by the Inter-American Development Bank. He said that lands have been already secured for same and tenders will be going out soon.
These two forms of renewable energy will provide more reliable and cheaper electricity for Lethem residents.
“Everything that we have promised that we wanted to do, we have diligently sought money…you stand by me and I will continue standing with you and we will make Lethem a shining example of what it should be,” Patterson said to loud applause.
Regional Executive Officer, Carl Parker, described the infrastructural improvements as quite inspiring and is far more than what the residents bargained for.
“With what we have heard here this afternoon, Lethem is getting closer to Georgetown by virtue of travelling time; what we are hearing here today is very much inspiring,” he said, after alluding to broken promises by the former administration.