By Alex Wayne
Yesterday the Ministry of Public Infrastructure reported thefts and vandalism at the Providence and Diamond overpasses, East Bank Demerara.
While this may come as a shocker to many who had applauded the efforts by this ministry when it embarked on such projects several months ago, one may not help but wonder about the irony in all this.
These projects were left to stand for months after their installation, without being put into operation.
The installation of works at Providence began on June 11, 2018 and was expected to be completed in about a week. The remaining installations were expected to be completed by August 2018. This may have been so and people seemed excited with the introduction of the overpasses and elevators.
This would have allowed for less congestion in traffic (with pedestrians attempting to cross roads in peak traffic hours), and would have helped greatly with the elderly in wheel chairs being spared the difficulties of having to cross the busy streets as well.
It is very sad that if indeed wheel chair occupants had welcomed the new initiative, their hopes had to be dashed. Up to today the elevators have not been put into operation. Surely they must have allowed them to catch the interest of vagrants who naturally seized the opportunity to vandalise and steal items for which millions of dollars were spent.
These items maybe by now would have made their way into the hands of black market buyers who must have paid next to nothing to obtain them.
The overhead walkways at Providence and Diamond were said to be built for $77M each.
According to ministry sources the Ministry of Public Infrastructure engineers observed and inspected activities of theft and vandalism at the Providence and Diamond overpasses on the East Bank of Demerara in the recent past weeks.
The engineers observed that the elevator glass door at Providence was smashed, and electrical and solar panel lights stolen.
The wires at Diamond overpass were disconnected from the camera systems; while both the no cycle and disable signs were stolen. Corrugated electrical wire cover was removed, earthing connection vandalized and protective covers stolen.
Yesterday the Infrastructure Ministry’s PRO, Krest Cummings, was contacted. She noted that the ministry has not been able to get the elevators up and running; they have not been able to train personnel in the use of the elevators.
She added that since the elevators are computerized it would take intense training and personnel of a high caliber to be educated on the operations. She added that the broken glass to the elevator door has been replaced along with the solar panels. Engineers will soon be creating fixtures to the cameras to ensure they cannot be vandalized. She added that the cameras at the elevators will now be hooked up to surveillance system at the Demerara Harbour Bridge, so as to ensure that security ranks there can have a twenty-hour computerized view of what transpires around the elevators.
She failed to comment on an operational start time for the elevators, alleging that the engineer who could furnish her with that information could not be reached at press time.
The Ministry of Public Infrastructure is calling on vandals to refrain from such activities since they are ultimately destroying much needed infrastructure. Citizens are asked to report such activities to the nearest police station or the Ministry’s Public Relations Department on 592-227-0799.
The contracts were awarded for works on the projects at Diamond and Providence, East Bank Demerara to S. Jagmohan Hardware Supplies and Constructing Services.
The general scope of work had involved a super structure of steel that was fully enclosed to prevent persons from falling or jumping from it. There are steps from both the western and eastern sides, and includes elevators for persons who are physically challenged.
The contracts for the other three walkways – at Houston, Eccles and Peter’s Hall were awarded to B and A Civil Works.
The first two elevators were installed at the Providence pedestrian overpass, East Bank Demerara for disabled people, senior citizens and pregnant women.
Trinidad Company, RBP Lifts Limited, had installed the elevators with RM Engineering overseeing the process.
Acting Project Manager for Donor Programme at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Mark Green, had informed that the elevators have a one-year warranty and a quarterly maintenance system in place. The elevators also have a screw drive system which is a simplified and more robust system, so there is no cable as in the case of the normal elevators.
They are also built for the outdoor environment; have a canopy to shade them, and are open with glazed glass and have LED lighting. A response system for emergencies during power outages is also in place.
The cost for supply and installation of each elevator is tabled at US$61,000. Each elevator has a maximum capacity of 400kg or can accommodate about five people.
In May 2016, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had announced plans to construct pedestrian overpasses, as well as a fly-over at Diamond in an effort to reduce road fatalities and congestion on the East Bank of Demerara.
These areas were selected based on the highest concentration of pedestrian movement on the East Bank.
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