Plans for new urban centre outside Georgetown progressing; utility companies being engaged

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Development works on Silica City – a vibrant, sustainable, resilient and modern city conceptualized in 2013 – is advancing with consultations ongoing with utility companies to coordinate the development of their infrastructure. Sharing this news is Guyana’s Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal when he debated Budget 2022 in the National Assembly on Friday.

The idea of Silica City is primarily born out of the need for Guyana to have an urban centre that is complementary to the existing capital city of Georgetown. Silica City is envisaged to tackle the issue of non-coastal urban settlement development and the challenges of climate change and sea-level rise.

With the growth of the oil and gas industry, new population centres will become necessary as the South American country’s economy continues to expand, attracting a growing number of people to its shores.

“There is therefore a compelling reason for urgent attention to be given to the development of Silica City as a more non-coastal urban settlement, inclusive of services and amenities that would attract investment, create employment, and offer alternative urban settlement development at higher elevations,” Croal articulated in parliament.

The defined area of interest for development is located within the vicinity of the Soesdyke-Timehri area, where approximately 3,800 acres of state land have been identified as available for immediate development.

Croal went on to say that the “smart city” approach is proposed for creating a new city that is compact, pedestrian-oriented, energy-efficient, interconnected and sustainable, comfortable, attractive and secure. A key area of focus is the preservation and enhancement of the valuable, natural and cultural resources of the area.

Importantly, the vision for Silica City is in keeping with the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), Guyana’s international commitments to the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Goal 11 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It is envisaged that over the next 20 years, the projected population for this new city will be approximately 50,000, or 12,500 households, in light of employment creation and accommodating new households within a non-coastal settlement.

“Therefore, within the first five years, it is expected that the city would be developed to cater for at least 3,125 households, approximately 625 units annually,” the housing minister stated.

A preliminary development concept was completed identifying the key features of the smart city approach in terms of residential and non-residential development, transport and infrastructure, sustainable urban drainage, conservation and tourism district, waste management, alternative energy, technological aspects, and agriculture.

Meanwhile, the detailed designs have commenced for a golf course resort facility, an eco-industrial park and streetscape designs which are project initiatives of the new city.

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