Barge owner slapped with $100M bill for DHB damages
The owner of the barge and tug which slammed into the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) last month, rendering it inoperable for a few days, will have to repay $100M in damages.
Guyana Times understands that the bill was prepared after an assessment to the bridge during impact and remedial works that were done to fix the structure. While the incident would have occurred one month ago, the vessel remains impounded here in Guyana.
This assessment is devoid of revenue that was lost when the bridge was inoperable for a few days after the incident. This bill will also be forwarded shortly.
On September 2, the barge and tug slammed into the southern side of the Demerara Harbour Bridge just after midnight, thus shifting the spans which connect the structure and causing a shutdown to vehicular traffic.
In the wee hours of that morning, 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 Stabroek and Vreed-en-Hoop.
Whilst the boat service would usually commence operations at 06:00h every morning, provisions were made for the commuters to cross earlier. However, both stellings saw an influx of passengers in a rush to meet their destinations.
Later that day, General Manager of the Bridge Corporation, Rawlston Adams and Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson provided clarity on the seriousness of the issue.
The Public Infrastructure Minister 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.
“The crew and the barge have been detained by the Police…The preliminary assessment from MARAD suspected that the barge was outside its anchorage point. They also suspected that the barge was not properly manned. When the barge became adrift, the crew was manned by Cubans and Panamanians. Apparently, it’s a Panamanian registered vessel. They issued a mayday because it was drifting from Diamond-Grove. Very late, they gave the mayday and it was received by the Light House,” Patterson asserted.
He insisted that introspections should be made to prevent such occurrences in the future and they might have to mandate operators to have all barges powered by a tugboat. According to him, 55 water taxis came to the rescue and aided the massive undertaking.
Meanwhile, Adams shared that the barge came into contact with the bridge at two locations, and the structure was shifted from its aligned position between the high and retractor spans. During the collision, the floating bridge was loaded with a gravel-like material.
“The barge came into contact at two locations, span 13 and again at span 16. We saw some severe damages. The bridge is completely out of alignment between the high span and the retractor span,” he has said.
Emergency actions were deployed to remedy the situation but it was hindered by unfavourable tidal conditions for a few hours. For the morning period, workers managed to install temporary decking and some of the connecting posts. In total, nine connecting posts were to be changed along with nine anchor chains.
He later added that all marine transits were to be suspended since the unaligned structure presents unpredictability to the operation of the retractor span.