Boat operators and motorists are calling on the authorities to start urgent works to repair the dilapidated Leguan Stelling, which they say is a “deathtrap” waiting to happen.
During a visit to the Essequibo River island stelling yesterday, Stabroek News observed that many of the piles that are used to support the structure are rotting. Additionally, the ramp used by drivers to access ferries is also deteriorating as are steps at the dock.
Every time a vehicle drives along the structure, it shakes as if it will collapse.
Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, boat operator Bassant (only name given) related that the stelling has been in this condition for more than two years and has been slowly getting worse. The man described it as a “deathtrap that is waiting to fall at any time.”
“If you only go under the stelling when them vehicles driving pass, then you gon’ be really worried. Every time you there and it pass, the whole thing does shake and tumble and you does got to wonder how much more pressure it could take,” Bassant said.
The man explained that in addition to the constant fears of the stelling collapsing, drivers are also forced to reduce their loads out of fear of causing damage to the “dying stelling.”
“While them man could bring a big truck load of sand before, now you could barely get a canter because this thing can’t handle all of them loads now. Look and see for yourself, you barely walking and the boards shaking. It has to fix and fast,” Bassant added, while stating that if the relevant authorities do not repair the stelling soon, then there is a risk of persons being hurt.
The man also explained that the docking area for boats is also in a worrying condition and sometimes it is difficult for passengers to disembark from the boats. “People does be scared to even step on because of how it looks. It’s bad, very bad,” he said.
“At any given moment in a day, they always got people here waiting on a boat and if something is to happen then people are going to be seriously injured. There is no ifs or buts, it got to be fixed and it got to be fixed soon,” Bassant said.
Several drivers and other boat operators echoed Bassant’s sentiments and said that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s Transport and Harbours Department needs to stop pussyfooting and address the “serious issue.”
One of the drivers added that if the government is wise, it would use concrete piles instead of the wooden ones to extend their lifespan.
The Transport and Harbours Department had announced in December, 2015 that a sum of $24 million would be put towards maintenance works on the stelling’s driveway, decking, beams, piles and the rehabilitation of the fender system. The work was slated to start in early 2016, although it is unclear whether anything was done.