Barge drifted for miles before crashing into Bridge; traffic could return to normal Tuesday
Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson Monday morning said the Panamanian barge and tug that collided with the Demerara Harbour Bridge Monday was not anchored in the designated place and had in fact drifted for miles before it crashed.
“Preliminary reports are that it wasn’t anchored where it was supposed to be anchored,” the Minister said during an interview on State radio.
Reports are that the vessel started drifting from Diamond/Grove area along the East Bank of Demerara after it broke away from its anchor.
“By the time they issued a mayday call they were already at the bridge and by the time we got the call it was way too late.”
The bridge is closed to vehicular traffic until further notice; Patterson estimates traffic could begin flowing again by Tuesday.
The vessel that crashed into the bridge has been impounded and the crew members have been detained for questioning by the Police and Maritime Administrative Department (MARAD).
There were vehicles on the bridge at the time of the incident and one vehicle was damaged. The driver, a young woman, received minor injuries. Minister Patterson said she was treated and sent home.
Meanwhile, the Minister said that the damages to the bridge are extensive but repairable. He noted that the most serious of the problem is anchorage points, where nine of ten have burst.
The Minister is optimistic that the bridge can be fixed by Monday afternoon.
“We reckon that we can get those physical damages fix to the bridge by 6 p.m. today.”
The closure of the bridge has affected thousands of commuters who use it to cross from West Demerara to the East Bank and Georgetown.
The closure also comes on the first day of the new academic school year.
With the bridge down, the only means of crossing the river is by way of speedboat from Vreed-en-hoop and Georgetown.
Police officers and MARAD officers were able to calm the confusion at the Vreed-en-Hoop and Georgetown stellings, with organized lines for passengers going and coming.
Passengers were also seen offloading at the Harbour Master’s Wharf.
Minister Patterson said they will also look to extend the boat service to about 20:30 hrs to 21:00 hrs.
“It looks very possible; nothing that we need that we don’t have at hand has been damaged, all that was damage we have replacement parts for.”