Damage to Demerara Harbour Bridge by vessels:
Ministry to review system of assessing financial penalties
Guyana Chronicle
October 31, 2002

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CABINET at its meeting on Tuesday, reviewed the regular exposure of the Demerara Harbour Bridge to damage by passing vessels in the Demerara River and has subsequently mandated the Ministry of Public Works and Communications to review the current system of assessing financial penalties and recouping lost revenue from those responsible for such damage.

According to Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon, Cabinet examined this issue in the context of yet another collision with ensuing structural damage to parts of the bridge's suspension.

He said Cabinet was advised that notwithstanding structural damage being identified, assessed and repaired, in the long-term, instability could still occur from initially undetected consequences of the collisions.

Demerara Harbour Bridge - which is also a statutory body - has been assessing the recent damage and "making some decisions on the cost of repairs and loss of revenue (which) is usually applied against the firm or individual responsible for the collision", Luncheon said.

"But in the context of the repeated exposure, Cabinet has mandated the Ministry of Public Works and Communications to review that system of assessing the financial penalty and to propose ways of putting in place additional financial penalties in anticipation of the structural damage that is undetected at the time of collision," he told reporters yesterday.

"In essence, a long-term view is being taken about safeguarding the integrity of that vital structure," he added.

The Demerara Harbour Bridge was damaged last Friday when a tug and barge belonging to the Barama Logging Company crashed into one of the pontoons supporting that part of the structure.

The crash shifted the bridge out of line but the bridge was re-opened the following day to vehicular traffic after repairs to the damaged column supporting its high span were completed.

Bridge Project Manager, Mr. Andrew Motayne, said the closure of the bridge for more than 24 hours resulted in the loss of more than $500,000 in revenue.

This latest incident occurred just two months after another section of the bridge was damaged.

In that accident, a fully loaded barge belonging to Demerara Timbers Limited (DTL) crashed into the western end of the bridge causing the supporting poles and wires to snap and shifted the bridge out of line.

In May this year, a barge belonging to UNAMCO Logging Company reportedly drifted from the Toolsie Persaud wharf at Providence, East Bank Demerara, and crashed into the bridge causing some damage in the area of the retractor span.