Linden crisis…Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge reopens to traffic as calm returns
Yesterday was quite peaceful in the mining town of Linden as the roads remained devoid of protestors and the camps which were set up by residents, and there were no clashes between demonstrators and members of the Joint Services. Also, significantly, the Wismar/Mackenzie Bridge was reopened to traffic.
However there remains a high Joint Services presence as their camps could be seen along the roadway from Amelia’s Ward to Wismar. Up to press time yesterday there was still a camp at the eastern side of the bridge.
Over on the Wismar shore, two vehicles with army and Police ranks could be seen keeping guard. Some of the ranks at times engaged in light conversation with residents as they passed. Unlike the past few days, that area too was without protest action. Only a handful of persons were seen traversing the area – going about their regular business – even as a few taxis were at the same location soliciting jobs. There, however, remained one camp which was reportedly set up by residents at that location, with a handful of persons congregating.
While the bridge has been reopened, vehicular traffic is only allowed through after subjecting themselves to thorough searches by unarmed police ranks who have been positioned at the location. Upon passing, each driver is told about the condition for using the bridge. Once the search is carried out, that vehicle is allowed to pass.
This new method has not yet been met with any opposition by commuters, as many were seen willingly exiting their vehicles to facilitate the process. After the search, each vehicle falls into a line and then waits to cross the bridge, which is done at intervals to facilitate traffic coming from the other end.
For now there will be no toll system as the toll booths were completely destroyed by fire.
In the past vehicles traversing the bridge were required to pay tolls ranging from $40 to $3,000.
Further up, in the Wismar and One Mile areas, there also appeared to be calm, and although some of the roads remained blocked, there wasn’t any significant assembly of persons. There however is a Joint Services presence. There, too, police and army ranks continue to make their presence felt much to the dissatisfaction of residents. In some instances, residents can be heard throwing snide remarks at the lawmen. There were some reports of “cross talking “between the law enforcement officers and some angry residents who continue to question the need for the Joint Services in the area, after the fact – citing Sunday morning’s school fire.
It was no different in Amelia’s Ward, as the main roads were clear, allowing the smooth flow of traffic. In some isolated areas, however, some streets remained blocked but vehicular traffic over a period of time was able to make new passage, using the parapets in some instances.
The crowd which had become a customary sight at the Amelia’s Ward Second Bus Shed was not present yesterday. There also persons could be seen strolling by going about their daily business.
However, many businesses were still closed, such as post offices, commercial banks, gas stations, the forestry office and supermarkets. Also there has been a significant decrease in the use of motorcycles as public transportation, had become a norm in the community over the past few weeks.
Short drop cars and minibuses are back in operation but not on a high scale. The boat landing between Mackenzie and Wismar is without much activity. At intervals, persons seeking to ‘help out the situation’ can be seen using their small vessels to shuttle persons and their luggage across the Demerara River for a cost a tad over the regular price.
Over the past 26 days, the community of Linden has been in a state of unrest with massive protest and engagements between irate residents and the Joint Services. Ever since the beginning of the situation which was sparked by an increase in the electricity tariffs, three persons have lost their lives and dozens have been injured.
The most recent report of injuries was on Sunday last when several persons were treated at the Linden Hospital Complex for injuries they sustained from pellets. Two army ranks were among the injured. Also, some ten buildings have been destroyed by fire believed to have all been deliberately set.