This week we asked Berbicians to comment on the malfunctioning of the retractor span of the Berbice River Bridge which left countless persons stranded for hours on both sides of the river last Friday. These were their responses:

Interviews and photos by Jannelle Williams

20141124semoneSemone Thom – ‘I think they should put an emergency system in place just in case something happens. We need a substitute for the bridge. I don’t know the system, but put some manual something in place. I don’t know what the problem is, but if it’s working with a computer get another one as backup. That is the main way people get across the Berbice River, we don’t have any boats working. So if something goes wrong with the bridge everybody is left stranded. Nonsense! They should have kept the stelling so people could make the choice which mode they want to use: the bridge or the stelling. If you had an accident that night and the person had to be rushed to the Georgetown Hospital, by the time the bridge fix, the person would have died.’








20141124michaelMichael Nurse – ‘Hear what I am vexed about. They got the transport ferry, they got the stelling and allow it to fall down and just basically banking on the bridge alone. If something serious should happen to the bridge, how would people cross? You leave the stelling to fall down. I don’t think that is right. I think they should repair the stelling in case of any emergency that people could use the ferry to cross. And more so, let we say when the bridge close you could allow the ferry to make a trip during that time.’








20141124dennisDennis Chesney, hire bus driver – ‘I feel that after the bridge fix and they allow everybody to cross over from the western side that was okay. But we use this bridge every day, about thirty something buses from this association traversing this bridge. We had about twelve to thirteen buses stuck over here that night, that had to return passengers to their original pick up points and cross over empty when the bridge was eventually fixed. I feel the bridge should compensate us as drivers. We submit the names of the people and they allow them to cross free of charge with a full load; we will appreciate that. We as drivers suffered a tremendous blow. Some of us end up sleeping in our buses in New Amsterdam because we weren’t aware that the bridge was fixed. We lose some $5,000 because we lost a trip.’








20141124clarenceClarence Williams, hire car driver – ‘Really and truly I think the boat should have never been removed. The bridge should have been like an additional means of getting across the river and the boat should have remained. All of us grow up and meet the boat. We know that anything manmade will malfunction: the boat will malfunction and the bridge will malfunction. Both should be working to complement each other. If we got both of them, both of them won’t malfunction at the same time. People got to go to the airport, people got to cross for various reasons and if we got the boat it will be a substitute in case the bridge breaks down. You can use smaller modern boats if they don’t want to bring back the big boats, and that will take persons faster across the river anyhow.’








20141124towanaTowana Cush – ‘I think they should bring back the boat because for some people it is real hard on them to use the bridge, and what happen on Friday is reason enough why the boat system should come back. It’s not every day you could find that money to go back and forth, back and forth. So they should have the boat system. The bridge is very expensive for a single mother like me. I thank God I wasn’t stuck there because I don’t know how I would have coped. They really need to consider how only operating the bridge without using the ferry service as well affects us. Plus only using the bridge obviously will put strain on it, causing it to malfunction.’








20141124markMark Douglas, hire bus driver – ‘If we suffer a punctured tyre or break down on the bridge and can’t fix it within ten minutes or whatever time they allot us, we have to pay a fine of $10,000. So I think since the bridge broke down, we as drivers should be compensated because we were inconvenienced. You get a simple puncture on the bridge the cameras pick it up and a jeep comes and the driver say you have ten minutes to get it fixed; they don’t flex with you. If you exceed the time that they give you, you got to pay. So I’m saying they should pay us or at the very least allow us to cross free with a load to make a trip.’







20141124churwinChurwin Dick-Grant, hire car driver – ‘I believe they are supposed to have had a backup plan in place in case of emergencies as such. A second alternative, let the boat work or at the very least, keep it as stand-by for emergencies. They should have never done away with the ferry service. Like how that happened Friday night, it would not have affected us if we had the ferry running. I had to wait hours at the bridge, where in if it was working I could have made two trips, which is $12,000. So it was very frustrating to have to empty my car of a full load and lose out on two trips. Bring back the ferry.’








20141124sheniSheni Subrattie – ‘I was in a car waiting on the bridge to open so I could come across to New Amsterdam. And all I hear is a man passing saying “ya’ll hear the bridge break down?” and I see vehicles turning around. And that’s how I knew what going on. Then around 9 pm the cars start turning around and going to the stelling because the passengers were frustrated waiting, waiting and nobody was saying anything about when the bridge will reopen. I think the people aren’t doing their work properly on the bridge. Imagine it opened, why it couldn’t close back? I never thought something like this could happen. We heard a rumour that the pontoon was working, and everybody headed to the stelling, but when we got there we realize it was only taking passengers.







20141124terrenceTerrence King, hire car driver – ‘It screw me up yesterday. I came down with a load from Georgetown and I was supposed to take them back, but the bridge broke down and I couldn’t make the return trip. They moved the bridge from where it originally had to go in Blairmont and they put it in D’Edward at the mouth of the river so you must have problems. Three hours of parking in the line and they didn’t tell anyone anything. It was not until six hours pass then they came and tell us passengers can go and cross with the pontoon at the stelling, but vehicles can’t cross. So you had to drop the passengers off at the pontoon and remain with your empty car. Had they notified us earlier, we could have made alternative arrangements. We could have made a decision in daylight, not when it’s late and dark.’








20141124deborahDeborah Thomas – ‘In everything you are going to have negatives and positives. The bridge is not a perfect situation where it would never break down. But when you call to find out an average time like how long more it would take to reopen, the operator would tell you matter of fact that he can’t give you a time frame. I don’t agree with that. You must have some idea as to what is wrong with the bridge and how long it will take. My son had to join the pontoon and come over that night, after waiting in a car for hours. He is training in Georgetown and rarely gets the chance to come home, and when he does the bridge breaks down. Something is wrong there and the bridge company needs to get its act together. So does the government. You should not have only one option of entering or exiting the region.’

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