The aging Demerara Harbour Bridge, proving a major challenge for the government with increased traffic and maintenance, has forced its management to ask for in excess of $900M next year to carry out critical rehabilitation works.
Despite seeing revenues increase eight percent to $395M so far, critical works which include the construction of two new pontoons and acquisition of buoys cannot be covered, as expenses are far outweighing income.
This has been a problem facing the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC), in relation to the structure, for a number of years now, with no immediate alternative for the hundreds of vehicles which cross on a daily basis.
Last year, government plugged several hundreds of millions of dollars for repairs following a sudden inspection by President Bharrat Jagdeo who criticized the state of the bridge.
DHBC General Manager Rawlston Adams has described 2010 as a challenging but highly productive year, with in excess of $395M in revenue collected.
In addition, Adams is quoted as saying in a government release that contracts for all capital works for the bridge in 2010 amounting to $664.1M were signed and are ongoing.
Included in the capital works are the servicing of 29 pontoons, fabrication of 30 distribution beams and 155 deck plates, 23 transoms, 45 buoys and the replacement of two hydraulic ramps. These works are in various stages of completion.
However, despite this increase in revenue collection, the General Manager said that the amount is inadequate for the maintenance of the bridge.
In 2011 “we are asking for in excess of $900M to continue our rehabilitation works,” he said. “This amount will go towards the fabrication of distribution beams, buoys and the construction of two extra large pontoons to facilitate the rehabilitation of the retractor span.”
The General Manager also hopes to have the concrete anchors replaced so as to enhance the bridge’s anchorage system.
“What we have done over
the last two years is that we have rehabilitated and changed the chains so we are hoping to further enhance our anchorage system by replacing the concrete anchor,” he said.
Included in the projections for the bridge in 2011 are the replacement of power cables to the retractor span, fabrication of end posts, supply of transoms and the rehabilitation of cluster piles for collision protection of the bridge’s high span and the retractor span.
There was an 8.7 percent increase in traffic crossing the bridge in a westerly direction when compared to 2009. This translates to in excess of 560 vehicles per day across the structure.
To deal with the increased traffic, management of the bridge had introduced a double-lane exercise, where traffic is restricted at peak periods.
Adams explained that accidents on the bridge are mostly due to speeding and the fact that many vehicles traversing the bridge are not properly maintained thus resulting in stranded vehicles being on the bridge at various times, which also contribute to accidents. With regards to security, a closed circuit television system has been installed at the bridge from which all activities on the eastern side of the bridge can be monitored. This, the General Manager said, will be extended to the western side of the bridge in the new year. The system is directly linked to the Brickdam Police Station where all the recorded information can be accessed by the law enforcement officials.
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