Commuters using speedboat transport from Vreed-en-Hoop to Georgetown (and vice versa) were yesterday very appreciative that repairs to the stelling structure on the West Demerara has finally begun.
Works on the Vreed-en-Hoop Stelling began a few days ago, and areas immediately targeted are those more badly damaged by the elements, and areas in an almost complete state of disintegration.
Workers told Kaieteur News yesterday that they were affecting repairs to areas that are being used by commuters on a constant basis. These include the stairways adjacent to where the speedboats are moored, sections of rotten floorboards, and also some main pillars holding sections of the structure upright.
Yesterday murmurs of gratitude emanated from commuters, boat captains and vendors as repair works were being executed. Taxi drivers were equally thankful of the fact that works had begun to ensure their operations on the facility become safer, and incident-free.
It was emphasised that the immediate repairs were temporary safety measures, paving the way for more intensified renovations to be done in the near future.
Senior Engineer at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Jermaine Braithwaite in a previous interview had indicated that the structure is in a dilapidated state, citing that a substantial section of the structure may require complete overhauling – from the pillars in the river to the roof, floor and other areas.
According to Braithwaite, the scope of works intended for the structure also includes upgrades to accommodate more speedboats, since there is an ongoing congestion problem at both the Vreed-en-Hoop and Georgetown Stellings. He added that the Ministry intends to have structural elements implemented to ensure order, and avoid
the present chaos when mooring of speedboats occur and passengers traverse the stelling.
As stated by Braithwaite, the Ministry has already solicited the services of Mott McDonald, a consultancy group from the United Kingdom, to conduct feasibility studies on rehabilitative works to be done on both stellings. The consultancy is being funded under a grant scheme by the United Kingdom government, through the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF). The contract which began in October 2018 is expected to conclude by November of this year.
Braithwaite informed that among projects to be done are components geared at flood prevention and much more. He said presently environmental assessments and other related studies are still in progress. According to Braithwaite, Government has already received funding for the first phase of upgrading of the Vreed-en-Hoop and Georgetown Stellings.
The Vreed-en-Hoop Boat Stelling is also used by pedestrians to park their bicycles and motorcycles as they go about their errands as well as clothes and food vendors who ply their trade daily.
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