Guyana Table of Contents
Figure 5. Guyana: Transportation System, 1991
Building a new road through the dense vegetation of the interior
Courtesy Leslie B. Johnson, Sr.
Next to the poor supply of electricity, the most serious infrastructure problem was the poor transportation system (see fig. 5). Travel and transport were difficult within Guyana, and there was only one surface link to a neighboring country, a newly paved road to Brazil. The domestic transportation system was minimal: only 500 kilometers of paved roads (mostly along the coast), 5,000 kilometers of gravel roads, 1,500 of earthen roads, and about 28,000 vehicles. Buses were aging and needed to be replaced. Commuting costs for workers were often high enough to dissuade them from leaving home each day. Only the lower portions of the major rivers--Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice--about 1,000 kilometers in all) were navigable, making transport of bauxite and sugar a challenge. Air service within the country was sporadic. The country's two ports, at Georgetown and at New Amsterdam, were also in need of improvement. An Economist report about travel to the Marudi Mountain gold mine in the most southern part of Guyana aptly depicted the extremes of inland travel: the trip required a ride on a small plane from Timehri Airport (weather Georgetown) to Lethem, followed by a six-hour jeep ride (rain permitting) to Aishalton, and then an eleven-hour walk to the mine.
Guyana's transportation system showed signs of improvement in the early 1990s, when foreign investment and foreign aid began returning to the country. Brazil financed construction of a 300- kilometer road from Kurupukari, in central Guyana, to Lethem, on the western border with Brazil, giving access to much of the interior. The government entered into a joint venture with British Airways) to establish a company called Guyana Airports Limited that would operate and develop Timehri Airport and other airports. Air transportation also took a step forward in 1990 when Varig, Brazil's national airline, started weekly air service from Timehri to Boa Vista and Manaus in northern Brazil. Most air travel outside of the country went through Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, or through Caracas, Venezuela.
Data as of January 1992