Works on the four-lane road expansion along the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) are progressing well, according to Technical Services Manager attached to the Public Infrastructure Ministry, Nigel Erskine, who is overseeing the project.Works ongoing on the East Coast Road Expansion project are on track to meet various deadlines (DPI Photo)The US$50.2 million East Coast Road Expansion project has two components; one features a four-lane expansion of the road from Better Hope to Annandale, and the other caters for an upgrade to the existing two-lane road from Annandale to Belfield. Works are currently concentrated on the four-lane expansion from Better Hope to Annandale.In an interview with Guyana Times, Erskine explained that work on the four- lane is just about half-way completed.“With respect to the road works, overall, about 55% of the works within the four-lane section have been completed; because, right now, all works are concentrated within the four lanes. But for the entire project, including the four-lane extension and the two-lane upgrade, we are currently at about 35% completed,” he related.This component of the project entails a total length of 16.998 kilometres of roads and 33.996 kilometres of drains to be built. It also includes the construction of seven bridges and the extension of 12 culverts. A median along with streetlights will be placed in the centre of the four lanes.MPI’s Technical Services Manager, Nigel ErskineErskine explained that the bridges are so far about 35% completed, with works having commenced on four of them; and of the 12 culverts, works are being carried out on the fourth culvert, which brings this aspect of the works to about 25% completed.The concrete drains are about 90% completed, while the revetment and retaining walls – a total of 190 metres primarily at the Triumph Sluice – are about 60% completed.With regards to the road work, 95% of the extension has been completed.The two-year project is scheduled to be completed in September 2019. However, the contractor is aiming to wrap up the four lanes by the end of this year, after which work would commence on upgrading the two-lane next year.According to Erskine, given the progress of the project, the year-end deadline is likely to be met.“We are progressing very (well) right now. We had a prolonged rainy season, but the contractor is doing very well… We should be able to meet the deadline,” he noted.Erskine, however, pointed out that although construction of the four lanes may be completed by the end of this year, the traffic lights and other road signs will not be installed at that time.“The road safety features and traffic signals may not be completed, but they might do that while the two-lane upgrade is being done,” he said.Guyana has received a US$45.3 million concessional loan from the China EXIM (Export-Import) Bank to finance the road project, and that agreement was signed in January last year.Initially, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government had tried to secure financing for the road expansion project, but the money was not readily available; hence the then administration decided to use local funds for preliminary works while it awaited the release of funds from the Chinese to complete the works. The preliminary works for the four-lane upgrade were completed at the end of 2014.With the China EXIM Bank putting up most of the finances for the road expansion, Guyana had awarded the contract to China Railway First Group for some US$42.7 million. The Chinese construction company reportedly put in the lowest bid of US$46.994 million. The PPP/C Administration had stated that it is saving some $2.8 billion by giving the contract to China Railway First Group.Upon completion of the widening and improvement of the East Coast Demerara Highway, citizens travelling along the East Coast will benefit from reduced travel time and less traffic congestion. Apart from the road being expanded, the project includes improved drainage for the East Coast, which is usually susceptible to floods.