40 years on: Harbour bridge stood “test of time” – Minister Harmon

DPI, Guyana, Sunday, July 1, 2018

Forty years after it was constructed, the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) remains a “tangible heritage” to all Guyanese, Minister of State Joseph Harmon has said.

He said the national infrastructure, known to be the longest floating bridge in the world at the time of its construction in 1978, has also “stood the test of time.”

Joining the staff of the DHB to celebrate the facility’s 40th anniversary at the Umana Yana today, Minister Harmon said the bridge remains a national legacy to all of Guyana. What was most striking though, was the facility being able to outlast it projected life-expectancy by some three decades

The bridge was constructed in 1978 by engineer Joseph Holder. At the time it was expected to last for only ten years. However, today it remains the only major facility that has been able to bridge the gap of hundreds of thousands of Guyanese who use it daily.

“It was expected to last for ten years. It is now 30 years beyond that expectation and going strong,” Minister Harmon told the gathering at the Umana Yana. he said that it is a testimony to the quality and durability of infrastructural work that was done in 1970’s.

He said the bridge has had its fair share of challenges over the last 40 years, but it was able to stand the test of time.

According to Minister Harmon, the historic occasion provides an opportunity for the country to pay homage to another visionary national leader the late President Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham.

It was under Burnham’s leadership the bridge was constructed. The country, just out of colonialism, had embarked on a grand national enterprise of repairing and developing the country’s infrastructure.

The occasion also pays tribute to the qualified and versatile engineers at the time of the bridge’s construction.

Opened in July 1978, the 1.15-mile floating toll bridge consists of a pedestrian footwall, 61 spans; a raised section that provides horizontal clearance of 32 metres and a vertical clearance of 7.9 metres to allow small vessels to pass always. It also has two retractor spans that retract fully to a horizontal clearance of 77. 4 metres to allow large vessels to pass. Its construction had given prominence as the longest floating bridge in the world at the time.

Before its construction, persons who wanted to traverse to and from Georgetown, for business and school, had to rely on the Transport and Harbour Department’s (T&HD) ferry, which sometimes presented some gruelling experiences. Understanding the challenges, Burnham spearheaded the construction of the bridge, ushering in massive economic and social developments across the respective regions.

By: Alexis Rodney

Images: Keno George