The Demerara Harbour Bridge is battling the owners of the runaway tug and barge that slammed into its steel structure back in September, causing it to be out of operations for more than a day.
The state-owned bridge company had slapped the owners of the vessels with a $90M-plus bill for repairs and other costs but there appeared to be no headway.
Recently, the bridge company through its lawyer, Everton Singh-Lammy secured orders for the vessels to be “arrested” and not released until the money is paid.
Yesterday, the owners through it lawyers, Cameron and Shepherd, asked for the vessels to be released and instead offered to pay less than half of the money, just over $40M.
According to Singh-Lammy, the owners wanted a limit to their liabilities.
However, the Harbour Bridge, now 40 years old, is rejecting that option.
Today, the matter continues before Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne George.
In early October, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, said that the Panama-registered barge remains impounded in Guyana.
He had indicated that the owners would also be billed for revenue lost when the bridge was out of operation, and for damage to a woman’s car.
It was on Monday, September 2, last, that a tug, Marina Oceanic, and a barge, manned by Cubans, and registered in Panama, ram
med into the Demerara Harbour Bridge, badly damaging the 40-year-old structure and leaving hundreds of commuters stranded for several hours.
The bridge had remained inoperable for almost 36 hours, after being twisted out of line.
Initial reports had suggested that the vessels had drifted and slammed into the bridge after the crew experienced mechanical problems while anchoring in the Grove/Diamond area of the river.
But sources close to the investigation said that it appeared that the individuals operating the tug had shut the engine off, and anchored the vessel “out of the anchorage point” (in an area where vessels are prohibited from anchoring), somewhere around the Craig area, East Bank Demerara.
It is believed that the crew wanted to be among the first to pass when the bridge was opened for vessels to traverse. However, they apparently didn’t reckon with the strong tides.
“They may have wanted to be first when the bridge opens, (but) the current and the force of the water pushed
them into the bridge and they lost control of the tug,” a source had said.
The Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) has since recommended several stringent regulations for vessels traversing the nation’s rivers.
MARAD officials explained that there are already regulations in place, which require the captains of vessels to notify authorities 72 hours before they come into port.
MARAD is also seeking to ensure that all barges are piloted by tugs that are adequate in size.
MARAD is proposing that the owners of vessels notify officials about the size of tugs, which they require to haul vessels.
The bridge is the main link between East and West Demerara.
The government was forced to introduce emergency traffic measures with speedboats to ensure workers and schoolchildren cross.
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