Following the discovery, over the weekend, that one of the hydraulic winches on the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) has failed, resulting in the Bridge being closed to marine traffic, General Manager (GM) Rawlston Adams on Tuesday told shippers that the Bridge was expected to be reopened to marine traffic on Thursday.
After closing the Bridge for seven hours on Saturday for the replacement of a pontoon at the retractor span, engineers discovered mechanical failures during the reconnection process. It was discovered that one of the hydraulic winches was not holding pressure under load.
General Manager Adams said that they initially thought that the problem was with the gearbox, but after stripping it, they discovered that it was in working order. Further diagnostic tests revealed that the spline in the shaft of the barrel was damaged and had to be repaired. Adams noted that the spline was damaged because moisture was trapped in the barrel.
“We did some testing and it failed on the test, and we isolated the problem to the shaft on the barrel; when we opened that shaft, it took a long time and we realised that the spline is damaged. Over the years, moisture got into the spline and it got damaged. The guys are in the process of machining the part and we will hook it up and test it,” he said.
The General Manager said engineers would carry out tests before installing it later on Wednesday.
“We expect it to be completed by tomorrow 12 noon (today) and we will install and do the testing. For those in the shipping industry, we expect that your next retraction is going to be Thursday at 03:30 (am),” he added.
Adams, in a meeting with shippers, told them that the DHB Corporation was now contemplating testing the remaining three winches on the retractor span. However, he noted that many factors have to be taken into consideration before they embark on the project.
The retractor span of the Bridge comprises eight winches, four of which are small four- ton equipment while the remaining four are 12 tons each. The faulty winch has been identified as the north-eastern 12-ton apparatus.
The bridge company did not have any replacements at hand and as such, it turned to two private entities – Industrial Fabrications Inc and EC Vieira Investments Ltd to assist.
Stemming from the hiccups encountered, works are currently underway to diagnose the direct cause of the problem, after which reinforcements will be put in place.
This issue occurred just as the floating bridge was undergoing the second of a two-part rehabilitation process on the retractor span, which carries a total cost of $103 million.
The Bridge usually facilitates up to four marine vessels transiting on a daily basis, the majority of which are attached to the fuel, bauxite and timber industries. Despite this interruption in passage, the DHB General Manager did indicate that financial losses remained at a minimum.