Over $500M spent annually to maintain DHB

first_imgCrew members of the DHB conducting maintenance works on a section of the structure on Friday morningOver $500 million is spent annually to maintain the 41-year-old Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB), which is nestled across the Demerara River from Peter’s Hall, East Bank Demerara, to Schoonord, West Bank Demerara.In a recent interview with this publication, General Manager of the 1.25 miles (2.01 km) long floating structure, Rawlston Adams explained that this figure is usually deducted from the Bridge’s toll revenue.The far too frequent and costly maintenance works are triggered by the fact that the Bridge was only intended to service commuters for about 10 years, however, it is still being used.Only on Friday Junior Communities Minister, Annette Ferguson, who once functioned as Minister within the Infrastructure Ministry, told the media that works are frequently conducted to maintain the Bridge.According to her, since the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government took office, three new pontoons were installed while 77 existing ones were rehabilitated.Along with the pontoons, the Bridge itself is usually maintained almost on a daily basis, occasionally at various spots simultaneously. The maintenance crew of the Bridge would usually be required to conduct welding works, which results in traffic build-up across the Bridge.Strangely, those works are done during peak hours, commonly when persons are rushing to work or school in the mornings.Due to the maintenance crew working on one section of the two-lane bridge, traffic is usually diverted to the other lane, which means that vehicles in their rightful lane would have to wait until the path is clear again.Many drivers have complained to Guyana Times of the traffic build-up on the Bridge during these hours. They argued that maintenance works should be conducted at “less busy” hours to allow the traffic to flow as it should.With the Bridge slowly self-destructing, plans are afoot to have a new bridge built across the Demerara River to better facilitate the flow of traffic.The new bridge would be built to accommodate four lanes of traffic in the future. Already, however, controversy surrounds the new proposed structure as Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson has been accused of sole-sourcing the feasibility contract into the bridge.In fact, a probe was conducted by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) into the awarding of a sole-sourced contract for a feasibility study into the construction of the new Demerara River bridge.The contract in question was awarded to Dutch company LievenseCSO for a feasibility study into the new bridge.The Opposition had requested that the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) investigate the award of the $148 million sole-sourced contract.The PPC had flagged Minister Patterson for requesting from Cabinet that the contract be sole-sourced instead of being processed through the Procurement Board as the law says should be done.The PPC completed its investigation into the award of the contract for a feasibility study on a new Demerara River bridge and handed its report over on August 7, 2018. The report noted that several companies had bid for the project to do the feasibility study and design for the new Demerara River bridge and 12 companies had been shortlisted.The report added that only two of the 12 companies had made proposals. As such, the bidding process was annulled. It added that on November 12, 2016, the Tender Administration Board approved the move for the project to be re-tendered. The project was not re-tendered; instead, Dutch company LievenseCSO was engaged by the Public Infrastructure Ministry to do the work. (Davina Ramdass)DHB General Manager Rawlston Adamslast_img