By Cathy Richards
The closure of the Mackenzie/Wismar Bridge which is at present undergoing extensive rehab works took effect prematurely yesterday morning when a DAF truck laden with lumber got stuck on the middle span of the bridge, disrupting traffic.
The mishap occurred shortly after 5 am yesterday as the truck was heading to the Mackenzie shore from Wismar over the bridge across the Demerara River.
In preparation for some extensive work to the middle span of the bridge the contractor has put in place a metal ramp to allow smooth passage of vehicles whenever such traffic is allowed to cross the bridge.
However this mishap proved that some adjustments need to be made if heavy vehicles are to be allowed to pass during opening hours. It took almost two hours before the truck and its contents were removed from the bridge to allow the free flow of traffic yesterday morning.
Scores of commuters were trapped at both ends of the bridge and most persons were forced to utilize the ferry services to get to their destinations but this was not an option for drivers. Several mini-bus operators who usually make the early morning run to and from Georgetown were the hardest hit. They expressed their frustration over the situation, saying that their daily living had been interrupted.
“They started before they are really ready,” opined one bus driver who said that he would have lost a day’s earnings. “At this time I am usually half way to Georgetown. My bus was already full with passengers and I can’t be vex with them because they gat to do their thing and they went and ketch deh boat and go and get another bus from deh park,” he said angrily.
He explained that he would not have been able to secure another load until sometime in the afternoon because all the buses have their own time for loading.
Another businessman said that he was heading to his workplace when he got caught in the situation. He said that he chose not to cross with the boat but waited until the truck was removed.
“I am staying here because I want to tell them lazy shallow-minded engineers a piece of my mind,” he said. He noted that while he is not a qualified engineer a simple examination of the situation revealed that the ramp was not designed for heavy-duty vehicles.
His observations were complemented by others on the bridge at the time. Some added that the authorities need to disallow the crossing of heavy-duty vehicle for the time and a pontoon system should be put in place for them during the period of the remedial works.
Others said that the present works on the bridge is a waste of government and taxpayers’ resources since they felt that there is need for a modern bridge. “2016 is the Olympics right in our backyard and this is what dem man doing. Repairing this old weak thing? Where are the visionaries of our town? The Takutu Bridge has opened up that mean there would be a heavier flow of traffic through this town and so we need to have a new state-of-the-art bridge that can withstand any pressure,” said one man. He added that the span of the bridge is too narrow.
Another commuter commented on the absence of the oversight authorities. “Look we call out you (SN) long after dem girls (bridge attendants) call deh bosses and you done reach here and none of dem from Linmine or the Town Council who said that they would be closely monitoring, can’t reach here yet. Dis thing happen lil after 5 am and is heading to 7 o’clock and they ain’t show up yet. What a tangle web we weaving!” one man remarked.
BOSAI’s front-end loader came to the rescue at approximately 6:55am and managed to pull the truck off the span. The truck GLL 9667 registered to Kiu Chiong Pieng of 1 Water Street and Battery Road, Kingston was at the time transporting dressed lumber, property of Demerara Timbers Ltd.
A recent public advisory issued jointly by the Linmine Secretariat, the Linden Town Council and the Ministry of Public Works and Communication indicated that effective from yesterday, the Mackenzie/Wismar bridge would be closed to vehicular traffic on Mondays to Fridays from 09:00 to 15:00 hrs and it will remain open until 17:00hrs to allow school children and workers to get from one shore to the other hassle free.
The next opening hours would be after 21:00 hrs. On Saturdays the bridge would be closed from 09:00hrs to 15:00hrs. The maximum allowable speed for vehicular traffic while crossing the bridge would be 5 miles per hour.