A preliminary design report on the much-anticipated bypass road linking the East Bank to the East Coast of Demerara has found that a four-lane design is the most feasible option for the project. Public Infrastructure Ministry Technical Services Manager Nigel Erskine explained to Guyana Times that having received the preliminary report from the consultancy firm, India-based Rites Limited, they now have an idea of what the final design would be.Public Infrastructure Ministry Technical Services Manager Nigel Erskine“Based on their [preliminary] traffic analysis and studies, and their projection into the future, they’re saying that it is feasible to go with the four-lane road now for the main alignment. So more than likely, the final report will be four lane for the main alignment with a 40 metres reserve [in the middle],” Erskine noted.According to the Technical Services Manager, the Ministry is looking to use the reserve in the middle, sometime in the future, for a rapid rail that would run from the Timehri Airport to Ogle.However, Erskine posited that while they now had an idea of what the design would be like, there was more work still remaining before the design was finalised. The preliminary report has pegged the project cost at US$104 million.This Diamond-Ogle Bypass project will see some 26 kilometres of roadway constructed linking two of the country’s main thoroughfares – the East Bank Highway and East Coast highway. This new road link will also be connected to key communities in Georgetown and along the East Bank of Demerara. These include Diamond, Mocha, Eccles – all on the East Bank – and South Ruimveldt (via Aubrey Barker Road) in Georgetown.Back in 2016, Finance Minister Winston Jordan signed a US$50 million loan with the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of India for the construction of a 20-kilometre road from Ogle on the East Coast of Demerara, to Diamond.Since the Indian Government is funding the project, it is required that the contracts be awarded to companies from that country and as such, the 10-month design consultancy project was awarded to RITES Limited.Erskine pointed out that so far the India-based company has met all of its deadlines. Having submitted the preliminary design report, which has been approved, the consultancy firm will now have to work on a draft final report to submit at the end of January 2019. Following that, the final report is expected in April 2019.“So, by the end of April, we should be ready to proceed with the bidding process to get a contractor and that’s going to take about four to six months. So, definitely, we should have a contractor ready to mobilise and start works in the last quarter of next year,” the Technical Services Manager posited. However, during an interview earlier this year, Minister Jordan had told Guyana Times that he did not foresee this project being fully completed before 2020.“I don’t see the road becoming a reality before 2020, if I were to hazard a guess. I would love it to be there before, but based on how things go and based on the difficulties of communication and tendering and so on, because everything has to come from India – the consultants and contractors… so they have to do tendering there and tendering here, so it will take some time (before it’s completed),” the Finance Minister opined.In an effort to reduce traffic congestion for commuters on the East Bank of Demerara, which leads to the country’s main point of entry – the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) regime was working on constructing an ‘East Coast to East Bank’ bypass road and sought funding from the Indian Government in 2015.Meanwhile, the current coalition Administration is looking to extend the bypass road all the way to Soesdyke on the East Bank of Demerara.This aspect will fall under a second phase of the project. Erskine noted that next year, the Public Infrastructure Ministry is hoping to move ahead with the design consultancy process.