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“Safety comes first” says Harbour boss as several 8hrs closures planned

Safety comes first" says Harbour boss as several 8hrs closures planned

Commuters who transit the Demerara Harbour Bridge are being advised that some very critical but necessary works will be executed on the Demerara Harbour Bridge structure to ensure the safety and preservation of life and limb.

Wayne Watson, General Manager of the Bridge in an exclusive interview with BIG Smith News Watch explained that critical maintenance works commenced last Saturday through December 12th, 2021. While the3 woks will be routinely done on Saturdays, a staggering of the works schedule will be in effect to ensure the bridge is still accessible to commuters and ocean-going vessels.

“We have major rehabilitation works that will be done to the retractor span and this entails a 1.2 billion dollars contract that was signed between us and InFab, they started the major works last Saturday and we will have to shut down the bridge. The accumulated time for the shutdown will range from four to eight hours and in most instances it will start at 11 pm” Watson told BIG Smith News Watch.

Asked why the works are being done this close into the Christmas season, the General Manager explained that the contractual agreement stipulated that the works are to be done before the end of the year. He further explained that the contract was signed earlier this year but the contractor had challenges with the importation of materials on time because of Covid-19.

The General Manager has given a commitment that the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation would be disseminating timely notices about the maintenance works and is asking persons to pay attention to those notices so that they are not caught up in the scheduled maintenance time.

“We are currently in the process of working out the logistics with InFab and as soon as we get those, we will then post them and give advance notices and so that persons can program themselves with respect to how they utilise the bridge” stated Watson.

He further stated “We are ensuring that the bridge is accessible during the day as much as possible. We will move most of our retraction to the evenings so we will have the maintenance works done during curfew time of 23:00 to 04:00 when the commute is expected to be very low. Once we finish the works before the scheduled time, then we will reopen the bridge to traffic. We are doing it this way because we need the bridge to be as accessible as possible during the day” Wayne Watson told this publication.

The maintenance period is expected to be eight hours on each instance and that according to the General Manager is to allow for the mobilizing and demobilizing of equipment which according to the contractor would take a total of two hours.

The other sox hours will be used to carry out as much work as possible on each scheduled maintenance.

Mr. Watson also explained that because of the present state of the bridge, it is not operating to its full capacity but with the works being carried out, that will be remedied.

“Safety comes first for us, the safety of the commuters and those using the bridge. The retractor span is very critical for the operation of the bridge and last year into earlier this year, there were several deficiencies with the retractor span. Because of the deficiencies, the retractor span cannot be fully opened so with the rehabilitation and replacement process that we are engaged in, that will allow larger vessels to pass because now, we are restricting and also the restriction in relation to the tonnage for the trucks”

The Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation has at the moment is only allowing 18 metric tons to be carried by trucks. This is he said has also been affecting the business sector and citizens who carry loads across the bridge for construction and other purposes. He however reassured that these will all be a thing of the past when the critical works are complete.

The Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation is encouraging commuters to exercise patience during this period and to read the daily scheduling of the bridge so that they can also plan their movements unhindered. The General Manager explained that the notices will also be given well ahead of time as far as applicable.