Comprehensive investigation underway into DHB Barge collision – Min Sharma
─ Contingency plans being assessed
DPI, Guyana, Thursday September 5, 2019
A thorough investigation is underway to determine the circumstances surrounding the September 3 tug and barge collision with the Demerara Harbor Bridge (DHB). Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Hon. Jaipaul Sharma, appearing as a guest on the National Communications Network (NCN) radio programme ‘INSIGHT’, said the “Port State Control Inspection”, will determine the cause, look at the state of the vessels involved, the vessel’s logbook, anchorage records, the crew, and possible criminal responsibility among other issues.
The minister explained that vessels approaching the DHB should be under control of a Transport and Harbour’s River Pilot, who would be familiar with the area and the dos and don’ts. This was apparently, not the case at the time of the collision.
“You wouldn’t expect that an international vessel approaching the bridge does not have a local person advising, or being on board,” Minister Sharma said.
He commended the efforts made by the DHB’s management, engineers and workers who effected bridge repairs within 36 hours of the “massive collision”, describing their work as “highly commendable.”
The quick responses to utilise the Vreed-En-Hoop and Stabroek Market Stellings, by the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) and the Maritime Administration, was also commended by Minister Sharma.
“Within a couple of hours, they [Transport and Harbours Department] had arranged for water taxis and speed boats to be used effectively and efficiently.”
The minister opined that instead of one bridge, possibly two or even three may be necessary eventually, “and that costs money and planning”, he pointed out.
Minister Sharma added that the plans to beautify the stellings, as waterfront areas, should perhaps take into consideration the alternate use as embarkation points for commuters, in case of a similar emergency.
“I am saying that even with a new harbour bridge, a fixed bridge, we should even have other bridges… We should even have the two stellings up and running, operational. They could be used for tourism but in case of emergencies they could be easily switched for passengers and commuters.”
General Manager of Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (DHBC), Rawlston Adams stated that the cost for the repairs effected to the bridge will be borne by the owners of the tug and the barge that slammed into the bridge.
The Demerara Harbour Bridge was forced to close on September 2 after a tug and barge drifted into the bridge, shifting its alignment and loosening the anchorage.