A “major breakage” at Retractor Span 9 of the Demerara Harbour Bridge has forced authorities to restrict heavy vehicles from traversing the bridge and also halt retractions for marine traffic.
Public Works Minister, Juan Edghill, during a press briefing this afternoon to update on the emergency situation with the Retractor Span, announced that only trucks carrying loads of up to 18 tonnes will be allowed to traverse the bridge. However, only one truck will be allowed at a time from either side to cross.
This has resulted in a back up of trucks on the two sides of the Demerara Harbour Bridge since this afternoon.
A team led by the Minister had inspected the troubled Retractor Span 9 as well as Span 10.
“We had to make a decision to interrupt the traffic for trucks bearing load. We have satisfied ourselves that if we release one truck at a time on the bridge, as against several trucks both going and coming at the same time, we’ll be able to alleviate some of the problems that we currently face,” Edghill said.
He further noted that that loaded-trucks that usually get special crossings for carrying up to 22 tonnes, would not be allowed until a full review of the situation is done and a remedy is given.
Regarding marine traffic, Chairman of DHB Board Ravi Ramcharitar will be meeting with agents that handle vessels that traverses the Demerara River tomorrow (Friday, March 26, 2021).
“As it stands right now, we would not be able to have a retraction until we engaged these agents and we have some agreement because we have to reduce the amount of retractions that are being done so as to save this bridge because of what is taking place currently,” the Public Works Minister noted.
Meanwhile, a technical team – comprising of DHB engineers along with engineers, Marcel Gaskin and Marley Bhaveshwar, and Captain Gerry Gouveia from local steel company, InFab Inc. – will go back to the drawing board and do the necessary testing and engineering designs to come up with a solution within 72 hours.
According to Minister Edghill, they are currently working with the National Procurement and Tender Board (NPTAB) to fasttrack access to the $890M allocated in the 2021 Budget for works on Span 9 to get these emergency works done.
“We wanna ensure that the procurement process for the works to be done at Span 9 is done according to the law but we have to move with some haste so we can get this done quickly. So we have an engagement with the Tender Board on that to get things moving quickly,” he noted.
In the meanwhile, Edghill is urging truck owners and operators to be patient as they work to resolve the issue as soon as possible. The Public Works Minister also implored with motorists traversing the bridge to observe the speed limit and avoid breaking suddenly – which he said is partially the cause of the issues being faced now.