EYEWITNESS: Building bridges… after PNC’s abridgment

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After almost a decade, a new Demerara Harbour Bridge is finally about to be constructed. The PPP Government had, back in early 2013, proposed to construct a fixed-span, 4-lane, concrete structure at Peter’s Hall/ Schoonard to replace the long “expired” floating structure. The preliminary design was done by local DHB engineers, and the final one was to be done by the backers of what was to be a “Build, Operate, Own and Transfer” (BOOT) model.

But, as we know, the PNC started to flex its muscles in the new dispensation produced after the 2011 elections. This saw the PPP ending up with a minority Government against the combined parliamentary majority of the PNC and AFC. It then became a fight for regime survival, as the AFC flexed its muscles and threatened an NCM to oust the PPP! In burning its promised “bridge” between the PNC and PPP in Parliament, the AFC effectively torpedoed the new DHB.

When the PNC/AFC coalition slid into office in 2015, the newly designated Ministry, and Minister of “Public Infrastructure”, Patterson, immediately trumpeted that he was going to have the new Bridge built and operational by 2018! Trouble was, he immediately jettisoned the local proposal and sole-sourced another one from some Dutch company for a whopping $143 MILLION! The THREE-LANE STRUCTURE with a retractable section was derided by the Chinese Ambassador as “19th century”! The PPP reported him to the SOCU…but, not surprisingly, they let him off without even a slap on his wrist.

In January of this year, the new PPP Government saw him charged for fraud and hauled before the courts; and, in the meantime, immediately moved to get the DHB project back on track. President Ali announced that the new Bridge would be situated between Nandy Park and La Grange, from where it would feed into a new 4-lane Highway all the way to Parika, on the Essequibo River. This would open up thousands of acres of land for agriculture, manufacturing and housing purposes. And this is what development is all about!

We just learnt that nine companies are shortlisted to design and construct the original fixed-span bridge, and construction will begin this year. There are in the mix five Chinese and four European companies, including the ones that built the bridges over in Suriname.

Your Eyewitness wonders what happened to the US companies we heard would be plunging in to demonstrate their world-class construction skills!

Biden has clearly placed China in the US’ sights, and is moving on many fronts to checkmate the inexorable rise of the former. Shouldn’t he look in his own backyard at economic development as an arena of competition for “hearts and minds”?

…and saving babies

There was a very poignant story about a young mother giving birth to her premature baby. In her estimation, the baby was treated callously by the medical staff, and was left to die. But in your Eyewitness’s estimation, the reporting on the unfortunate incident was not as nuanced as it could’ve been. The thing is, every country’s medical system has term, cut-off points below which it is beyond their capabilities to save preemies.

That cut-off point in the developed countries – with their arsenal of (high priced) interventional tools, trained personnel and techniques – is 24 weeks. For Guyana, your Eyewitness understands, it’s 28 weeks. In this case, the young mother said she was “6-month” pregnant – which would be around 24-25 weeks. So, while it might not have been the most diplomatic way of conveying the message to the mother, the midwife/nurse, who said there was nothing she could do to save the baby, was perfectly in order.

But it should’ve been conveyed more sensitively.

…to elections sanity?

Opposition Leader Harmon was just presented by the EU Observer Mission with its final report on the March 2 elections.

While Harmon complained about a “bloated list”, he didn’t contradict the report’s conclusion.

The PPP won!