Govts approach to new Demerara River Bridge ill conceived will be

By Ramona LuthiIn light of the Finance Minister, Winston Jordan’s recent disclosure that Government intends to scrap a previous proposal largely centered on establishing a new three-lane, open format bridge as a replacement for the Demerara Harbour Bridge (DHB) in favour of a four-lane, fixed high level bridge, Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday asserted that Government’s approach to the initiative is “ill conceived” and will leave Guyana with a huge burden.Opposition leader Dr Bharrat JagdeoJagdeo said that while he is not against the four-lane design, Government’s way of approaching the change is what leaves space for worry.“This is ill conceived and will leave us with a huge burden in the future…” he said during his weekly press conference at his Church Street office.The Opposition Leader pointed out that the feasibility study conducted for the 3-lane bridge project had pointed out that that design was the only feasible one, which would deem the 4-lane initiative unfeasible.“If you’re going for a four-lane fixed bridge. We don’t have a problem…but the three-lane study said only the three lane bridge was feasible… Their own study says the four-lane is not feasible..,” he said.Moreover, he drew attention to the warnings he had laid upon the announcement of Government’s intention to build a three-lane bridge, asserting once again that the Administration is unprepared and does not know what they’re doing.“Now you recall what I said, you can’t leave the contractors to determine the future of this project…no money in the budget, so no funding for the bridge, we are not getting a grant, free money to build the bridge, no loan…how do you plan to finance the bridge? I said all of those things need to be pre-determined…I pointed out the Berbice bridge. That there were about 2000 pages of studies… a prospectus was developed…legislation passed to support public private partnership …and only then did the company solicit bids…they [Government] didn’t do any of these things. They just said we’re putting out the tender, the contractors will tell us what they want,” he explained.After reports surfaced of Government’s change of mind, Member of Parliament for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Juan Edghill had urged the Administration to come clean on the matter.An artist’s impression of what the thre-lane Demerara River bridge would have looked likeAccording to Edghill, this development is indicative of three things: that the Government has no policy direction in the public infrastructure sector; that Government is prone to making ad hoc decisions; and that they follow a pattern of annulling tenders.He was at this juncture referring to the Guyana Power and Light’s (GPL’s) $3 billion tender for the installation of smart meters and transmission lines which Government annulled a few months ago.“It would appear that unless they get a specific outcome, or they are allowed to get away with their underhand dealings, their (preference) is to annul and start all over. If it was the case where they wanted a four-lane, fix-span bridge, we of the PPP have been saying to them that is the way to go. They were talking about cost,” Edghill explained.“Why would the Government want to invest US$170 million on a three-lane, retractable bridge? And we always wanted to know why. But they have been caught with their pants down, and the only way they can deal with it is annul and go for a four-lane bridge. I would specifically like to hear the Minister of Public Infrastructure give the rationale for the annulment,” he declared.Last year, a feasibility study and design for the new Demerara River Bridge had reportedly cost some $146.3 million.The 57-page final report was done by Dutch company LievenseCSO.It is understood that the feasibility study had determined the proposed location of Houston-Versailles was the most ideal and that a low-level bridge with a movable part and three-lanes was recommended for construction.Another study had been completed in 2013, when the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation had collaborated with the then Public Works Ministry to carry out a pre-feasibility analysis.That study had concluded that a ‘fixed, high level’ bridge was the best option to pursue, rather than the open model.The “fixed, high level” option would ensure that traffic would be able to flow even while boats passed underneath the structure. The bridge presently operates according to schedule in order to cater for marine traffic.There have traditionally been lengthy traffic lines during rush hour, as motorists hurry to catch the bridge before it closes. It was to solve these traffic woes and to cater for the advanced age of the DHB structure that a new bridge has been contemplated. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedGovt buckles to pressure, to undertake new fixed, four-lane Demerara bridgeJune 18, 2018In “Business”New Demerara bridge: Govt allowing contractors to take the lead unprecedented – JagdeoFebruary 19, 2018In “Business”$100M more to be set aside for expertise on New Demerara River Crossing- GovtNovember 26, 2018In “Business” read more