Fares to remain the same as boat operators agree to work 24-hrs during Harbour Bridge 3-day closure
A scheduled three-day closure of the Demerara Harbour Bridge to facilitate maintenance works has prompted speed boat operators plying the Georgetown to Vreed-en-Hoop route to work 24 hours each day to transport persons across the Demerara River.
The Demerara Harbour Bridge will close from Monday, July 24 to Thursday, July 27, 2023 to facilitate the necessary replacement of span nine of the bridge.
In wake of this closure, a meeting held between the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) and Coast Guard with boat operators on Tuesday afternoon has led to the agreement for them operators to work 24 hours each day.
During the meeting, Director-General of MARAD, Captain Stephen Thomas made it clear that the fares would remain the same. He also affirmed that security would be increased along the waterways. This is to ensure that operators do not go against the agreement on fares.
He reminded that there will be more persons using the service, hence, operators were encouraged to maintain assistive efforts for vulnerable groups- including the elderly and persons living with disabilities—with boarding the boats.
“We are assembling a team of monitors to assist the core of monitors now. We will have monitors at all the locations 24/7 to help us with enforcing the order.
“We are looking for that same helpful spirit to prevail because more people will be traversing,” the Director General said.
On Tuesday, the boat operators raised concerns about the water levels and number of boats operating at this time. However, Thomas assured that these were issues that were taken into consideration when the schedule was planned.
He also assured that all complaints are prioritised and said, “Everything that reaches to my level, we are obligated to deal with.”
Following the assuring responses, a boat operator shared his gratitude for the meeting which paved the way for other issues to be raised.
“I welcome this meeting for many reasons and I trust that in the future at least every year we can get at least one meeting,” he said. However, he too said that on many occasions the complaints are not addressed.
During the closure, persons can be assured that a secure area was identified for those desirous of parking their vehicles. Deputy Commissioner of the Guyana Police Force, Ravindradat Budhram, that procedures are being put in place based on previous closures of the bridge.
He noted that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the private sector, the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), and the joint services would assist with boats and patrols throughout the three-day period.
The Guyana Defence Force has also offered four 30-seater buses to shuttle persons on the West Bank from the Demerara Harbour Bridge to Vreed-en-Hoop.