The collapse of Supenaam stelling inspired some courageous reporters in pursuit of the truth about building standards in relation to the access ramp. The collapse of a section of the multi-million dollar structure is being blamed on neglect, but government interference isn’t the only thing getting in the way of the truth-telling. Guyana’s countless bigger project tragedies routinely get shoved under the rug.
Concerns abound that defects and further wear and tear may exist in other sections of the structure, which could create conditions for an accident. President Donald Ramotar must investigate why there are so many problems with this stelling and make it a top priority for Essequibians to travel in ease and comfort.
Today we need better modification, design and maintenance of the Supenaam stelling. Our sea and river defence planners must never forget the lessons of the Demerara Harbour Bridge when it was collapsing in the Demerara River. This misadventure has its own origins in hubris, complicated further by dumb mistakes.
Another issue is that the maritime industry is challenged by lack of qualified personnel, while onshore fabrication infrastructure is threatened.
There is a countrywide shortage of civil engineers and there is a need for high-level, integrated thinking about issues that will affect our stellings for the next 100 years. Action must be swift; there is a certain urgency because we Essequibians are facing challenges today that no other region is facing. What we do or fail to do will have lasting consequences – and we won’t be able to turn back the clock.
Essequibo’s economic development and diversification depends on the Supenaam stelling, which is already at the centre of business, trade, tourism and finance in the region.