Demerara Bridge reopens to light vehicular traffic
…captain, crew of vessel rammed into bridge remain confined to ship
Just two days after one of the worst incidents the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) has had to endure, sufficient progress has been made that the bridge can reopen for light vehicular traffic and trucks up to 12 tonnes, as of 21:00h on Monday.
This was the update given by Public Works Minister Juan Edghill, in a briefing with the media on the bridge. The bridge had initially been expected to open to light traffic at 18:30h. However, Edghill explained that the time had to be adjusted.
“We anticipated that we would have had this closed by 6:30. We’re just about 10 minutes beyond that time. And they have to do a little adjustment. So, what we have now done based upon what we have seen, the bridge is practically closed. Which means the two retractors are almost at each other where vehicles will be able to pass over.”
“The general manager has just advised me that with the tidying up and the cleaning up of getting all the equipment and welding torches off, we will open for vehicular traffic at 9:00 pm tonight and we’ll be able to carry up to 12 tonnes. So, sand trucks and other cargo bearing trucks with 18 tonnes that were normally allowed, we’re asking you to hold on your weight,” Edghill said.
He explained that some of the empty trucks will be allowed to cross, as long as they do not exceed the 12-tonne threshold. Additionally, Edghill noted that they will have to get two pontoons on an emergency basis. In light of the fact that fabricating a pontoon from scratch can take 120 days, Edghill said that they would have to explore their options and whether a pontoon can be rehabilitated.
“They’ve just advised me that we’ll have to go into emergency to get two pontoons. Because right now, they did not recognise it initially. But those pontoons are badly damaged with holes. So, what we have right now are pumps that are being installed to keep the water out of the pontoons.”
“We’ll have to go into emergency mode to procure two additional pontoons. We got one delivered yesterday (Sunday)… so at this stage it’s tidying up, cleaning up. And stabilising. And by 9:00, traffic will be flowing on the Demerara Harbour Bridge,” Edghill said, going on to laud the role that the Guyanese engineers, welders and contractors played in getting the bridge back up and running, as well as the water taxis that stepped up.
With respect to DHB Ship Supervisor, Andy Duke, who was directing the vessel through the retraction and attempted to get it to stop after realising it was out of alignment, Edghill said that he is still hospitalised with his fractured leg and may have to undergo surgery. At the time of the incident, Duke was injured after he had to jump from his post to get out of the path of the vessel that eventually crashed into the bridge.
The Board of Inquiry is meanwhile continuing its probe into the incident, after which they will be expected to make their recommendations and establish culpability where necessary. The Minister said that the Board has seven days in which to conclude their probe.
Edghill also revealed that the pilot of the MV Trade Wind Passion, the Panamanian fuel ship that was transporting fuel when it crashed into the bridge, remains confined to the ship along with his crew.
The MV Trade Wind Passion was transporting fuel to the Guyana Oil Company (GuyOil). It was heading south and was the last of five vessels to cross the bridge, when it collided with the bridge on Saturday morning. (G3)