Need for maintenance work on the Berbice river bridge

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Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson – File Photo.

MINISTER of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, in an interview on Friday, stated the government’s current position as it relates to the Maintenance works to be conducted on the Berbice River Bridge. According to Patterson, although the ministry has allotted some $120 Million for the maintenance work to be completed on the bridge, the work is still at a stand still awaiting some further cooperation from the Berbice River Bridge Company Inc. (BRBCI).

He explained that while the maintenance work on the pontoons is somewhat complex, the ministry has suggested a system to ensure that the pontoons can be maintained in a way that would be well within the resources the BRBCI has at its disposal.

“There are 39 pontoons under the Berbice bridge and to replace a pontoon what you have to do is jack it up, jack up the bridge, put in a replacement pontoon, take out the defective one, carry it to a yard, weld it, service it, bring it back and put in the original and take out the replacement and that is exactly what we have budgeted for because we can’t take off all 39 pontoons one time. We reckon that you can only do 6 per year and then obviously you do the other 6 the following year, until you get to all of them, that’s how it’s done at the harbour bridge. With the demerara harbour bridge you can’t do all in the same year so it’s a continuous approach, and that’s what we have advised the BRBCI,” said Patterson.

He further related that the BRBCI had made a public statement that it had a jack- up barge and a replacement barge to aid in the maintenance process, but has since indicated that its jack-up Barge is currently inoperable.

Patterson further stated that the BRBCI has written to him to state that they have interpreted his statement to say the government will stand the entire cost relating to the servicing and repairs to the pontoons, which would now include the use of the demerara harbor bridge’s jack-up barge. He stated that the berbice river bridge had provided him with quotations on the cost for transporting the pontoons to be repaired and that the budget he had made was calculated around the quotations provided.

He lastly went on to say that the pontoons have been in operation for over 12 years without being serviced and maintained and is adamant that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure is making every effort to ensure that the maintenance work is carried out in an expeditious manner, while utilizing the resources it has for this project.

“….. but my records show that since 2006 those pontoons have been there and are yet to be serviced, so the short answer to the question is that it’s a continuous process just like the demerara harbor bridge. You do 6 or if you can get 7 per year, until you finish all 39 and then you start the process all over again, because it is a continuous cycle, and we going to work to ensure we get it completed,” stated Patterson.