One day before the Demerara Harbour Bridge is slated to return to its normal retraction schedule after a week of disruptions, the Bridge’s Management is bracing for the possibility of further downtime and disruptions to marine traffic.
A new and unexpected problem has been uncovered on the 40- year-old bridge, affecting one of the Hydraulic Winches, and that could affect the passage of vessels transporting fuel, oil, sand and other key commodities. General Manager, Rawlston Adams said engineers had planned to reconnect the hydraulic pipes on Sunday after replacing a pontoon and start their initial testing.
But it was discovered that there was a problem with the winch. Adams said while engineers are still diagnosing the problem, he suspects that the problem could be that one of the gears in a motor has gone bad.
“These motors spin at a high speed but the bridge has to turn at slow speed so there are gearboxes that reduce the speed. We suspect one of the gears in there has gone bad. This is not something we normally expect,” he explained.
Adams said motors are usually kept in stock but not the gearboxes. “This bridge is a modular bridge and there is any number of things that can go bad… this is a mechanical problem and we can’t see inside.”
The winch was removed this morning and engineers have begun working with the hope of returning to normalcy by Tuesday. No vessel was allowed to pass during the past week with lengthy disruption to vehicular traffic as the pontoon was being replaced. This is the only Bridge connecting the West Coast to the East Bank and the Capital City.
The Bridge’s Management is expected to have a meeting on Tuesday with all shipping agents to inform them of what the position is. “If everything goes according to plan we will inform them that we will be opening the bridge as promised on Tuesday,” Adams added.
Adams said a total of four vessels are usually allowed passage through the bridge per day but could not say, the extent to which the last week of closure has affected this commute. He believes one of the companies to be greatly affected is the Guyana Power and Light along with other companies that transport oil and bauxite.
Adams said during the downtime, the revenue lost the Bridge suffered was very minimum. “The lesson for me is that the critical components of this bridge, we expect that the motors are the ones likely to go… this time it wasn’t the motor so we have to now do some reassessment,” he concluded.