Floating bridge for Berbice
Guyana Chronicle
July 1, 2004

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CONSTRUCTION of the long-awaited bridge across the Berbice River could begin by the end of the year as the option on the type of bridge and the site have been agreed on, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon announced yesterday.

“A floating bridge and crossing just off the Canje Bridge on the right bank of the creek have been adopted as the preferred options,” he reported at his weekly post-Cabinet news conference.

Arrangements are being made to initiate work on preparing designs of the bridge and bid documents for the civil components of the project, he said.

Work will also have to be done to put together a consortium to raise the estimated US$30M-$40M needed to fund the project, he said.

Luncheon indicated that the likely consortium would come from the state and the private sector.

Asked why a floating bridge was decided upon bearing in mind the high maintenance cost of such a structure, he said the feasibility study showed the floating bridge option was the only one that provides a degree of freedom of movement for vessels downstream.

He explained that with the revival of the bauxite industry and a planned deep water harbour in the Berbice River, the number of vessels on the waterway would significantly increase.

Luncheon noted too that consideration was given to the cost in that the US$3-$4M in the annual toll fee projected would suffice to service the debt that would be created to finance the project.

The Dutch construction company, Ballast Nedham International (BNI), which had earlier won a bid to build a permanent bridge across the river, withdrew citing financial losses in 2001 as the reason for its withdrawal. It further stated that it was withdrawing from a number of projects worldwide including the Berbice River bridge project.

In May this year, President Bharrat Jagdeo announced that the government’s plans to build a bridge across the river were a step closer to materialising.

At an Indian Arrival commemoration ceremony at Highbury, East Bank Berbice, he said a feasibility study on the project which began last year was concluded in April by a French company.

Luncheon said the government’s decision on the bridge design and its location were largely based on the feasibility study as well as the profitability of the investment.

He explained that had the administration opted for a permanent instead of a floating structure, the implications would have been many, including disrupting downstream travel and plans for the deep water harbour.

He said that after examining the many options and difficulties, including the high maintenance cost of a floating bridge, the government decided that the most feasible was another floating bridge for Guyana.

There is a floating bridge across the Demerara River.

The floating bridge across the Berbice River will not be near Highbury, the location proposed in earlier plans for a permanent structure.