Managing Director of BK International Brian Tiwari says that the use of excavators, bulldozers and other heavy-duty machinery on the Supenaam Stelling is responsible for the collapse which occurred recently, even as the Public Works Minister says that the results of an ongoing review will determine what went wrong.
Last month, a section of the multi-million dollar stelling on the Essequibo Coast collapsed under the weight of a heavy-duty truck that was transporting rice to the capital city. Due to the mishap, a weight restriction was placed on all vehicular traffic until the operators of Golden Fleece Rice Investment financed repairs, which saw the placement of metal sheets across the collapsed sections.
Rice millers were particularly affected by the weight restriction, which necessitated more trips in order to meet their respective quotas.
Last week, Transport and Harbours Department General Manager Marcelene Merchant announced that her department, in collaboration with the Works Ministry and the Demerara Harbour Bridge Company, would be fortifying the repairs and then conducting a review of the entire structure.
Calls were made to confirm whether these works had started but Merchant could not be reached.
Works Minister Robeson Benn, however, confirmed that the ministry is “reviewing the issue”. He further stated that whatever comments will be made about the stelling will be informed by the findings of the review.
Tiwari, however, is confident that the work done by his firm is not to blame. BK International was awarded the contract for the stelling, which was completed in 2010. Ever since its completion, the stelling has been the target of much criticism because of the amount of additional work that was required before it was adequately functional. Both the ministry and the company traded blame for the initial set of issues.
This time, BK is alleging that the collapse occurred because of the use of bulldozers, excavators, and other such heavy-duty machinery on the structure. Tiwari said his company has an operation just a short way from the stelling and his workers have informed him that the heavy-duty equipment is taken onto the stelling every now and again.
It should be noted that apart from the collapsed section, the stelling shows other signs of wear, including dislodged and hanging rails, and cracks in the bases of the rails, which in some cases are several feet long.
“These things should not be operating from a ferry stelling,” he Tiwari, while maintaining that the stelling was built to withstand the weight of the vehicles that are supposed to be traversing it.
Tiwari also said he was happy to hear about the review as it will likely vindicate the work BK International has done.