CROSSING THE BRIDGE
A crisis looms. No, it is not over the Budget.
What the opposition parties are doing with the 2012 Budget will not lead to a crisis. The cuts that they are proposing can be likened to kids playing monopoly. It is incomprehensible what the opposition is attempting but it will be for the people of Guyana when the time comes to ensure that this tyranny of one never again rears its head.
The real crisis that is about to develop is a short term one that will correct itself within one week. It concerns the decision for only one-way traffic on the Demerara Harbour Bridge commencing next week. This decision while necessary will cause mass chaos. There is no way that the thousands of vehicles that traverse the bridge each day will be able to do so in a timely manner using one lane. As such what is likely to happen is that there will be long lines and interminable delays for those having to use the bridge.
At present during peak hours, the bridge authorities are forced to allow two lanes to operate in one direction to ease the congestion. And still there is always a long build-up.
It may be argued that with discipline the situation can be eased. If persons who have to arrive at work for 8pm leave home at 4 am in the morning, they should be able to avoid delays and long lines. But it is unreasonable to ask persons to leave home so early.
There is also the option of more persons using the speedboat service. But just how many persons can the speed boat operators take off. There are persons who are not going to be willing to have small children travel by speedboat and therefore the speed boat option is not going to ease the woes.
There is far too heavy traffic, vehicular and human, traversing the bridge to allow for the use of only one lane of traffic or for diversion using speed boats. This problem has been brewing for sometime because of the increase in the number of vehicles using the bridge.
However since it is necessary for repairs to be effected to the bridge there has to be a practical solution. But what is that solution and will Guyanese be able to exercise the personal discipline and sacrifice required to make the solution work.
Most of the problems Guyanese have are not new. Other countries have experienced such problems before and therefore Guyana can learn from how others have dealt with similar problem.
The basis of the solution to ease traffic congestion for this temporary period should be to reduce the amount of vehicles and persons using the bridge. There is no other way in which chaos can be avoided unless the number of vehicles is reduced over the period that the bridge will be under repairs.
The first thing that should be done is for immediate notice to be given that no goods vehicle will be allowed to use the bridge between 5 am and 10 pm each day. As such, all trucks, Canters and other vehicles used in the transporting of goods should only be allowed to do so from 10 pm to 5 am.
In order to make it easier for these vehicles, some of which may be stuck on either side of the bridge, it is necessary for temporary parking bays to be established on both sides of the bridge. These bays should be established far away to the approaches. The National Cultural Centre tarmac can be used on the eastern side of the river and the Vreed- en -Hoop Stelling area on the western side. Security should be provided.
Secondly, the authorities should encourage car pooling. The best way to do this is to offer an incentive for vehicles using the bridge to have four or more persons in while crossing. As such during the period when one- lane traffic is to be employed the cost of using the bridge for motor cars with less than four persons should be increased to one thousand dollars. This will force vehicles to car pool and therefore reduce the number of vehicles crossing the bridge.
The present decision to effect repairs to the bride and thus temporary traffic arrangements should be a learning experience for the authorities. They should now begin to examine the possibility of a second bridge linking West Demerara to the East Bank.