By Brushell Blackman
The resurfacing of the Demerara Harbour Bridge is moving in earnest with the arrival of 2,000 deck plates from Miami.
The marine steel plates were procured by Courtney Benn Contracting Services Limited (CBCSL) which has been contracted by Government to undertake the works.
According to Managing Director of CBCSL, Courtney Benn, the 2,000 plates represent the second tranche of materials since an equal number of plates have already been installed on the bridge.
On a tour of CBSL fabrication site on Water Street, Benn said that his company is aiming to complete the plates and their structures to hand over to the Harbour Bridge for installation by February.
According to him 8,000 deck plates will be needed to completely resurface the bridge. He said upon completion of installation of the current set of plates, half of the bridge would have been resurfaced.
When pressed for a deadline for the complete resurfacing, Benn said that he was not sure since that decision is for the government. He said that it is costing the government, through CBCSL, $592M for every two thousand plates inclusive of the fabrication and installation.
General Manager, of CBCSL, Darren Nurse, explained that 100 plates will be installed per week and that the new plates will greatly minimise the clattering sounds that are made when vehicles traverse the structure.
Nurse added that the new plates will improve the general appearance of the structure that has become an eye sore. The deterioration of the structure had prompted no less of a person than President Bharrat Jagdeo to brand the state of the bridge as criminal.
General Manager of the Harbour Bridge, Rawleston Adams, said that he is looking forward to the completion of the second round of installation. Touching on the care and maintenance of the bridge, Adams said that it is not only the business of the persons that manage it, but it also rest with those who use the structure.
It is to this end that he is urging drivers, especially those with heavy vehicles such as trucks, to desist from speeding on the structure.
Adams explained that this practise will overtime damage the decking of the bridge, which is heavily subsidised since it has not been churning out enough revenue to maintain itself.
Adams said that plans are in train to install close circuit television (CCTV) cameras on the bridge to nab errant drivers who use the structure in a reckless manner. Additionally, he said that such a move has national security implications since the structure joins major parts of the country.
Further Adams said that the construction of the scale and the approaches on the western side has been completed but the scale is not operational for a want of electrical power. He could not say how soon the scale will come into operation, but indicated that this will allow for greater regulation and monitoring of the weight of vehicles that traverse the bridge.
He said that the increase in trucks transporting heavy items across the bridge has not been aiding the sustenance of the aging structure. However he was adamant that the bridge is serving its purpose and that works are always ongoing to improve the structure of the bridge.
He said that the impression should not be gleaned that the focus is on replacing the deckings of the bridge and nothing else. Adams said that currently replacing of the pontoons that are floating the bridge is ongoing, with sixty two of seventy nine new pontoons already installed.
Additionally, replacement of buoys and anchor chains are also moving apace. Many bemoaned the sad state of the structure and had even called for the building of a new bridge since it is the belief that the current structure has outlived its usefulness.
It has cost the government some $700M this year alone to undertake capital works to the structure. Additionally, government has pumped an additional $700M this year to subsidise the operation of the structure since its revenue collection has been miniscule. The Demerara Harbour Bridge was commissioned in 1978 by the Forbes Burnham administration.
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