It’s now almost a year since a spanking new multi-million dollar bridge over the Rupununi River caved in under the weight of an excavator heading into a mining location. This bridge was extremely important to a population of tens of thousands of residents of the South Rupununi district as it would have enabled easy access to Lethem and beyond, irrespective of the height of the Rupununi River.
For many years the residents of the South Rupununi were held to ransom by the height of the Rupununi River. If the water became too high then this district was completely cut off from the main supply location of Lethem. This meant that the price for basic commodities such as rations and fuel escalated dramatically during the rainy season. Stories abound of vehicles having to wait for days, even weeks, for the water level to drop so as to cross the river to reach their destination, often only a few miles from the river.
The construction of the Rupununi Bridge was intended to bring much relief to the people of the South Rupununi and ensure that accessibility was available all year round, but alas, the bridge was broken before it could have offered any meaningful assistance.
When this destruction was belatedly made public, the regional authorities promised that repairs to this vital access bridge would have been done as soon as the dry season commenced. It’s now almost six months since the dry season commenced but yet no repairs have begun. What is even more worrying is that the regional authorities are not saying anything about repairs and the rainy season is only a few months away.
At present there is intermittent rainfall in the South Rupununi. This has caused the water level in the Rupununi River to fluctuate dramatically. Because of the damage to the Rupununi Bridge vehicles can only cross the Rupununi River at Dadanawa, and even then only when the water is very low as vehicles have to drive across the river bed. As soon as there is a minor increase in the water level, vehicle crossings have to cease. The only alternative is a risky drum pontoon run by Dadanawa Ranch. Unfortunately these crossings are subject to the whims of the management of the ranch, and often vehicles are delayed for long periods or can’t cross at all if the pontoon needs repairs or the vehicle is too large. If the Rupununi Bridge was in operation then such difficulties would not have existed.
The big question being asked is when/if this bridge will be repaired? And by whom? It was once said that the miner was going to undertake the repairs of the bridge. But this doesn’t seem to be the case. So will the regional administration be undertaking these repairs? If so, when will this be?
It is urged that the Minister of Local Government or the Minister of Public Works pay some attention to this issue and institute immediate remedial action.
(Name and address provided)