Although opened to vehicular traffic carrying up to 12 tonnes as of 9 o clock on Monday night, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill, Minister of Public Works, says there are still some works to be done on the bridge before it is fully operational to accommodate the usual 18 tonnes weight limit per truck.
Speaking from the bridge on Monday evening, Minister Edghill also announced that two pontoons that were damaged in the Saturday morning collision needed to be replaced.
“By no means all of the work that has to be done on the bridge is completed, but sufficient is done to ensure we can get up to 12 tonnes moving. They have just advised me that we will have to go into emergency [procurement] to get two pontoons because they did not recognize it initially, but those pontoons are badly damaged with holes, so what we have right now is pumps that are being installed to keep the water out of the pontoons, so we have to go into emergency mode in procuring the two additional pontoons.”
“We got one delivered yesterday that was able to be put in, it was about the last assignment they had in putting in that pontoon in, and that is why we were very optimistic that we were able to get everything done by 6:30 PM [Monday],” Minister Edghill stated.
The Minister also appealed to the heavy-duty trucks carrying up to 18 tonnes to hold off a bit as the bridge will be fully operational soon.
“We will open for vehicular traffic at 9 PM [Monday] and we will be able to carry up to 12 tonnes. So, sand trucks and other cargo-bearing trucks with up to 18 tonnes which are usually allowed, we are asking you to hold, some of the empty trucks will be able to cross, once you are not more than 12 tonnes; canters, and other vehicles.”
He reassured everyone this should be rectified very soon. Minister Edghill also expressed his gratitude to the contractors and workers of the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation for their extraordinary work.
“You came to the bridge you saw how it was, some of you came earlier, some of you came after, getting this to where it is now was no ordinary job, our Guyanese men have shown the capacity and I don’t think after now anyone should ever speak an ill word or downgrade the capacity of Guyanese Contractors and Guyanese Engineers and Guyanese Fabricators, you saw the men welding, cutting, moving at a fast rate, they tested many of the things that needed to be tested and that was done.” … “The men and women have done an extraordinary job.”
“We also want to take this time to thank the water taxis who came out in great support, you know they are normally 12-hour water taxis, but they did 24-hours and were able to move [persons], and I guess by tomorrow we will be able to get back to some semblance of normalcy,” Minister Edghill said.
The Minister also expressed his gratitude to the Private Sector and the Media for their support during the bridge closure.
“The Private Sector must be commended for the support they give, this afternoon I had a meeting with the Private Sector Commission at their request at my office, and that was a fruitful meeting.”
“I must also say, you men and women of the media, you have also done an extraordinary job in that we were able to face such a major challenge without panic, you realise there was no panic, you helped us in getting out the correct information, you helped us in getting out timely information, so you yourselves did a tremendous job.”
Minister Edghill also noted that the appointed Board of Inquiry commenced its work yesterday afternoon, and should complete its investigation in seven days’ time.
“Seven days to wind up and give us a report, to tell us what really happened, the recommendations to ensure it never happens again, and to also establish culpability if there is anyone who is culpable for this because we are not treating this very lightly.”
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the MV Tradewind Passion, transporting fuel crashed into the Demerara Harbour Bridge causing structural damages and rendering the bridge inoperable for approximately 40 hours.