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The Government has announced a Board of Inquiry has been established to investigate a fuel vessel crashing into the Demarara Harbour Bridge in the wee hours of Saturday morning causing a ‘National Emergency.’ At a press conference on Saturday, addressing the incident, Ministers Juan Edghill, Deodat Indar and Robeson Benn announced a seven-member board will be issued with their instruments of appointment and commence the inquiry today.
This is said to be the worst damage to the bridge’s structure in its entire 47-year history. The bridge is presently the world’s fourth longest floating bridge and when constructed, 47 years ago, it was said to be the world’s longest.
Reports indicated around 2:00 hours on Saturday the MV Tradewinds Passion, a vessel transporting fuel for the Guyana Oil Company, while heading south, ignored calls to ‘drop anchor’ from the Shift Supervisor Andy Duke, and crashed into the Bridge.
To save his life, Duke jumped out of the way, suffering a fractured leg in the process, and is currently hospitalised. Other workmen, at the time working at the bottom of the bridge, reportedly too ran to save their lives. According to Ahmad Khan, the Mechanical Maintenance engineer, they ran given the size of the ship and uncertainty of its potential impact.
According to Edghill, who has responsibility for public works, and called the accident “terroism” and “madness,” the government “heard preliminarily some things that occurred.”
The Pilot of the Vessel, who was reportedly tested negative for both drugs and alcohol, was arrested and released. Reported too is that he was “instantly suspended” and could be banned permanently. Further, it was said the vessel will not be allowed to leave Georgetown until the matter is resolved. The Maritime Administration and the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation are reported to have started legal procedures to deal with the matter.
In the meantime, commuters who used the bridge can use river water taxis that will now be allowed to operate 24-hour across the Demerara River. An additional point of entry was opened at the Boat House next to the Stabroek wharf as well as points of access to water taxis at La Grange to the Demerara Harbour Bridge and another from the Wales area to the Diamond Grove area.
The Parking lot at the Guyana National Stadium will be used to park vehicles that are stranded.
There will be lighting at the Stabroek Wharf and at Vreed-en- Hoop.
24- hour police presence is also expected in these areas.