With government soon to commence construction of a new bridge across the Demerara River, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said there is no reason for the current structure to be demolished.
Minister Harmon said that “two bridges are better than one” and noted that as Minister responsible for Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), he will be lobbying for the upkeep of the bridge even after the new one is completed.
“I see absolutely no sensible reason to decommission one, where you have another one. I will lend my voice to that chorus which says that we should keep both bridges,” he told staff members and special invitees at the Demerara Harbour Bridge’s 40th anniversary celebration Sunday at the Umana Yana.
Harmon’s remarks come at time when he is campaigning for the chairmanship of the People’s National Congress Refortm against Volda Lawrence and incumbent Basil Williams.
If not heavily subsidised by government, the new bridge is expected to cost far more to cross than the existing one.
The then People’s Progressive Party-led administration had planned to demolish the existing Demerara Harbour Bridge and use sections to link the Kurupukari River and other interior areas.
The State Minister’s remarks were made less than one month after Finance Minister, Winston Jordan said in China and later confirmed to Demerara Waves Online News that government has decided to scrap plans to build a three-lane bridge with a movable span.
Jordan had said that, based on previously submitted tenders, government has decided to issue a fresh request for proposals, this time to construct a four-lane fixed high-span bridge.
“The reason why I think the decision has been made to go back out is because we didn’t want to disqualify a whole set of people who felt it might have been better to look at a bridge that is more longer lasting and with the passage of time between when that decision was made for a three-lane and now when we saw the bridge come in and the cost that it might be more prudent to go with the four-lane,” Jordan has told Demerara Waves Online News.
The new bridge will land at Houston, East Bank Demerara and Versailles, West Bank Demerara in the vicinity of the old Guyana Power and Light’s generating station.
The Netherlands-based consulting firm, Lievense CSO, had recommended the construction of a three-lane fixed bridge with a movable span to allow cargo ships to pass. The current 40-year old bridge has a retractable span.
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.