Truck drivers who travelled to Kwakwani, Region Ten early Monday to transport timber were unable to cross the Kwakwani River as the lone barge used for transporting large vehicles across the waterway was down for maintenance.
The frustration of drivers, who had been waiting for some time, boiled over with them complaining that it has been several weeks since maintenance works on the barge commenced.
According to reports, the barge was sent for maintenance in early July 2022 after it was observed that it was sinking. Up to Monday, however, it was still in the dry dock undergoing extended works.
The Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) Vice-Chairman, Cort Simeon told the News Room that the NDC is aware of the setbacks caused by the ongoing works to the barge.
“It is a very old barge and so the NDC tries to cope with the barge. Presently the barge is still docked.
“Hopefully by tomorrow morning once everything goes well, we pushing down tomorrow. It was some extensive welding we had to do,” the Vice-Chairman explained.
Meanwhile, Truck Driver Blaine Beckles, who has cargo parked at the river front waiting to cross the river, said he has been there for about two weeks.
He left his East Coast Demerara home and travelled to Kwakwani but he could not carry out his work due to the ongoing repairs to the barge.
“Right now we have a starting problem with the welder. Is only one welder they have here at the moment who they depending on. I don’t know what the issue is.
“We are here actually two weeks because the pontoon get a hole. The welder weld it and they had to pull it up back because it still leaking somewhere else. The pontoon need to ground for like a whole month the whole bottom actually leaking,” Beckles said.
He explained that 13 trucks with logs are currently parked and awaiting to travel into the region. He said that the drivers had to pool with each other to get food while they wait for the works to be completed but “it is getting overbearing now.”
Smaller trucks were able to traverse the river crossing using smaller barges while the larger trucks are stranded. This is the only barge in the area that can accommodate the weight of these trucks.
“We paying $22, 000 for a truck, it’s a lot of chance we taking because actually it had some truck that fall overboard and so it’s a chance we taking… they need to spend some money on it,” Beckles said.
He further noted, “It is people’s lives involved. Everybody says the barge wants boring and sinking but you can’t sink a barge and you don’t have anything to replace it. You can repair it, it will cost you money but it can repair.”