Demerara Harbour Bridge reopens to light vehicular traffic
…maritime traffic halted…more damages discovered as work continues – General ManagerThe foreign firm that owns the barge which slammed into the Demerara Harbour Bridge will have to stand the expense for the repairs to the structure. This is according to General Manager of the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC), Rawlston Adams, who, at a media briefing Tuesday, stated that works are ongoing at the bridge to ensure that operations there return to a state of normalcy.He explained that repairing the damages to the bridge is proving costly. However, the costs incurred for those necessary repairs will have to be paid by the owners of the foreign vessel that caused the destruction.Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC) General Manager Rawlston Adams“We are still looking and we are still discovering so we cannot put a number…we will assess what is the cost but for now, it will be premature for me to be calling any numbers. But what I know for sure is that the owners for the vessel, that cost would be transferred to them (vessel owners),” Adams said.Light trafficOn Tuesday afternoon at approximately 14:00h, the bridge was reopened to light vehicular traffic, but repairs are still ongoing. According to Adams, engineers have discovered that there are more damages from the incident than they initially assessed.Passengers disembarking boats at the Georgetown Stelling on Tuesday morning after being forced to use the waterways following the shutdown of the Harbour Bridge on Monday“What we realised is that a lot of the buoys, some of them got punctured, and at that point they started taking on water and not showing until later down in the morning. And some locations where we thought that the anchorage was okay, it was not what we have seen, and we have never seen this. The vessel was able to drag a lot of those anchors, those anchors are 15 ton anchors, so what it says it most likely hooked in the chain and it just dragged it on the bed, and that posed a difficulty for us”.No marine trafficThe DHBC General Manager pointed out that in relation to marine traffic, there is no definitive time frame as to when ocean-going vessels will traverse the waters, utilising the services of the bridge.He added that engineers are looking at the realignment of the bridge.Adams further stated that on Monday, when the incident occurred, three vessels were prevented from passing one section of the waters to the other, and on Tuesday, another three suffered the same fate.A usual retraction period of one and a half hours would allow three vessels to pass, but in light of the situation, the DHBC would have to allow five (or more) vessels to travel when the bridge is open to maritime traffic.Chaos at ferry stellingsAn employee of the DHBC conducting repairs to the Harbour BridgeOn Monday, notices were sent out that the structure would be closed for emergency works and the only alternative to cross the Demerara River was via the speedboat service, operating at Georgetown and Vreed-en-Hoop Stellings.When Guyana Times arrived at the Vreed-en-Hoop Stelling in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), the area was cordoned off from the Vreed-en-Hoop junction and persons had to walk to the docking area of the dilapidated Stelling as Police ranks tamed the situation. School-aged children hurried to make it into the next available boat as they feared reaching late on the very first day of school. Several boats were lined up as a swarm of passengers trickled into the vessels amid the confusion.Over at the Georgetown Stelling, a similar scenario was observed as multiple boats loaded. Persons complained about the deplorable and deteriorating stellings and were worried for their safety.Officials of the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) fixed themselves to organise the crowd in orderly lines. Police Commissioner Leslie James was present on site, along with other senior ranks, as he positioned that the situation was brought under control.On Tuesday, the situation was less chaotic and better systems were in place to accommodate the huge influx of passengers.Crew and bargePublic Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, at that time, had told the media that preliminary investigations revealed that the barge was beyond its anchorage location. After the vessel started drifting, a distress call was sent out but no one on-board spoke English. The crew members were detained as investigations continued.